Flying allows us mere mortals to tread lightly about the threshold of another world. The sky is a vast expanse that shrouds our planet in alternating shades of blue and darkness. By night, it is peppered with a billion shards of starlight and by day the solitary sun burns with the same heat that melted the wings of Icarus. Still we fortunate few venture forth into this rarefied atmosphere to cast our eyes back in wonder at planet earth.
Still, this same sky constantly changes. Its canvas is subjected to the extremes of night and day and the subtleties of water vapour that combine into clouds. These white whisps can be inches thick or tower into the heavens, raining down hail and lightning. These same clouds can buffet our vehicles of flight or offer us a rare glimpse of our relative speed as we skim along their tops, our wheels seemingly tracing tracks amongst the droplets.
For all of this brute force and beauty, dawn and dusk remains a special time. As day and night creep further into the sky, the world can sometimes be seen carving its own shadow against the stars. However it is the rich oranges blending into the darkest of blues that so often produce the most drama as nature’s ‘time lapse’ marks the day’s mid-points with a light show fit for the Gods.
As I took flight this last morning, I headed east towards the sun erupting above the waves in the east. Its molten rays bounced off the ceiling of stratus cloud creating a channel of fire trapped between earth and sky. As I wheeled back to the west, that same blaze slipped quickly into my periphery, replaced by the darkness of the retreating night. Below, the coastal lights dotted the shore while above the stars dotted the night’s final act.
As I raced towards the night it was obvious that there was no escaping the day. Like fishing net being cast by the lone fisherman it gradually overwhelmed the darkness overhead until it had me firmly within its grasp. In all directions the light blue tones of day swallowed the last tinkling stars and the black earth below came into view. The mountain ranges now cast long shadows and the frost in the fields gave them a greyish hue.
Another day had arrived and the sky readied itself once again for the subtleties of wind and weather before the day once again became night. We that fly are privileged to see this majestic display that is repeated every day with military precision and yet differing with every dawn at the hand of nature’s chaos. For some the sky is the limit, to others it is the pilot’s theatre.