26 August 2007

Summit Closeup

Summit Closeup
Copyright 2007 V1VrV2

There’s a little-known departure procedure at Seattle-Tacoma Airport that allows you to level-off at an intermediate altitude, navigate to a point very close to Mount Ranier, and get a spectacular, up-close view of this dormant volcano. A couple of weeks ago, while I was deadheading to Los Angeles, the Captain on the flight asked for permission to fly the procedure, and got it. The passengers were practically falling over themselves to look out the left-side windows. I lucked out and had a window all to myself, with no wing to interfere with the shot.

This photo of the summit was so easy to get, I couldn’t help but think of all the dedicated mountain climbers who’ve hiked and struggled for days to make it up there. They should have just rented a plane, don’t you think?

I'm kidding, of course. My perfect view lasted for no more than 20 seconds, then it was onward and upward, climbing to the upper Flight Levels, where even mighty mountains become ripples in the tapestry below. It's lovely but rather two-dimensional up there. Most interesting aerial photos are taken at considerably lower altitudes. Photographer-pilots must balance good photography with strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures -- in this case, the one that restricts the use of cameras below 18,000 feet. This makes getting good photos while I'm at work a challenge, but one I enjoy.