Headline Dec 25, 2015/ ''' THESE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRIES OF THE SKY '''



EN ROUTE FROM   London to Tokyo,...... Senior First Officer Mark Vanhoenacker of the British Airways from  747-400 fleet- turns poetic.

This essay is from his book, ''Skyfaring : A Journey With a Pilot.''  !WOW! -the World Student Society wishes him very well, and hopes to see him join all of us.............

When, after long hours over desert or sparsely inhabited land a city appears, the water we see near it-

Lakes, dams, rivers locked in their rolling green frames of vegetation  -looks holy as blood.  

''CALL NOW LONDON,'' an air traffic controller says to us, followed by a new frequency.

Since take off we've been passed one London controller to another, sharing a few minutes of air time before we're handed over to the next as simply as a baton.

But now we're nearing the invisible border of London's aerial dominion. The last today's London controllers says:
'' Contact now Maastricht. Good flight.''

The world's airspace is divided. There are various sorts of divisions. To the pilots who cross them every day, their borders form what we may regard as the countries of the sky.

London is such a sky country.

Maastricht is another.

Indeed, it's one of Europe's busiest and most important volumes of named air. It covers much of the higher airspace over the northwest corner of Europe, anew and unified dominion above some of the continent's historically bloodiest borders.

America's sky countries look much as its states might, if some pitiless war or committee had hugely reduced their number.

The sky called  Salt lake City  covers parts of nine states, from southern Nevada, north over the Great Salt Lake itself to the Canadian border, which it meets between the air-states of Seattle and Minneapolis.

There is a region called  New York;  yet most of New York State lies in Boston, which also encompasses all of New England.

The names of some sky countries are familiar to pilots before we fly anywhere. Paris, Delhi, Bangkok; world cities beneath their eponymous air countries.

Other aerial names correspond to places less familiar to a pilot, like me, who grew up in western Massachusetts.

The syllables  then form a kind of aerial poetry, the drumbeat of distant sky-lands beyond the next fold of the chart.:

Turkmenabat  and its sister  Turkmenbashi;  Vientiane, Wuhan and Kota Kinabalu;  Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Norilsk and Poliarny. Or the names are among the last you might imagine would rise to prominence  in the brightly modern sky : Arkhangelsk, Dushanbe and Samarkand.

IN THE BORDERLANDS, where pilots transfer from one set of controllers to another, there's a majesty to the place names heard so high above the turning earth.

Several sky countries after  Maastricht, the sun is setting behind us, and the first stars appear in the night we are racing toward. A Finnish  controller says : ''Sir, can now   Sankt Peterburg. You are released.''

What the morning light falls upon us is the Sea of Japan,  and far across this water,  on the snow-capped peaks of the island nation we are fast approaching.

The blueness of the sea is as perfect as the sky it reflects. It is as if we are slowly descending over the surface of a blue star, as if all other blues to be mined or diluted from this one,

We cross Japan and then out over the open Pacific, until the  controllers direct us back to the shore.

The technologies that bring us across  the sky still amaze me. We saw Tokyo from so far away. We saw it from the other side of the world, through fog and cloud and the skies of many countries.

We saw it from London; we saw it from another day.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society:

''' World-Baked '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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