This was my first time taking a direct flight from USA to India without an intermediate transit stop somewhere in-between. The flight path was close to the great circle route. It took us north over Greenland, the Scandinavian Peninsula, and Russia, and then south through Uzbekstan, perhaps Tajikstan, and then Afghanistan and Pakistan. The map above is a polar projection. This is how the route looks on the more common map that uses the Mercator projection. Because of the nature of the flight path, and because of the time of departure of the flight, we went through a sunset and sunrise over a short period of time. The flight took off in the early part of the morning and within three to four hours the sun had begun to set somewhere over Greenland. (The generally easterly direction of the flight shortens the duration of both daytime and nighttime, but the bigger impact on the daytime was because we were closer to the North Pole at that point, where days already are shorter in wintertime. (Time to open up a geography book!)) At sunset, as we were heading north, my seat on the right side of the aircraft was facing east, away from the direction for optimal viewing of sunsets. This is the kind of view I got.As the aircraft headed south during the second half of the flight, I ended up facing west, away from the direction of sunrise. Nevertheless I got a few pictures that seemed interesting. Here is one engine of our Boeing 777 aircraft. Notice that the nacelle of the engine is lit up by the rising sun from below and not above. Because of the angle of the rays of light at sunrise, because of the aircraft’s altitude, and because of the size of the engine, the rays of light are able to reach out under the aircraft to the engine on its other side first before they are able to reach over the top. Even though it may not be obvious from the picture, the engines on this aircraft are massive, and would even touch the ground once landed if it was not for the height of the landing gear.
Although I could not see the sun rise directly, I was able to see its impact on the ground indirectly as we flew over the far western end of the Himalayas. Here are some pictures.
It is indeed an awesome sight. This may be the only time one gets to experience the thrill of the Himalayas.
The timing for this flight was the best I have experienced in all my travels from USA to India over the many years. The return trip also promises to be advantageous in this regard.