I wrote this during one of the many trips that I used to take to Los Angeles when I was working. I have taken the liberty of making a few corrections/improvements, but not that many….. *****************************
The American Airlines Boeing 757 lined up on Runway 25R at LAX airport, with its distinct and ugly snout pointed West towards the Pacific Ocean. Silverbird quickly accelerated down the runway, muscling its streamlined form with rapidly increasing speed hard against the wind. Barely halfway down its runway the aircraft rose up from the ground, nose pointed skyward, as if eager to break its connection with Mother Earth and get away from its clutches as quickly as possible. It quickly ascended at a steep angle and attacked the sky like an eager and angry fighter jet rising to meet the enemy, its engines screaming with a distinct shrill and high-pitched sound that sounded so unworldly, yet so sweet, gaining altitude by the second. Within moments the aircraft was over the Pacific Ocean and was banking sharply to the left, beginning its U-turn to head back east to the Washington, DC, area. The aircraft turned east in the area over the Port of Long Beach and quickly rose to its cruising altitude. The unusually swift prevailing winds that had originally delayed my arrival into LAX on Monday were now speeding me on my way back home for an unexpected early arrival.
The Westin Hotel near LAX is located due east of the airport. Century Boulevard, which runs in front of the hotel, takes you directly from the hotel to the airport terminals. The hotel is shaped somewhat (but not exactly) like a cross, with the base of the cross facing the airport. The aircraft flight paths leading into LAX happen to be on both sides of the hotel (and therefore on both sides of the airport terminals themselves). LAX’s four runways run in an east to west direction (or west to east, depending on your perspective), on either sides of Century Boulevard. The runways on the south side of the airport terminal begin not too far from the hotel itself. The runways on the north side begin further away from the hotel, closer to the airport terminal itself. Most of the time the planes come in to land from the east and takeoff to the west. There are very rare arrivals from the west, usually late in the night or in the early hours of the morning before the regular traffic has begun. Being a frequent traveler, I usually get a room on the highest floors of the hotel. My view from the hotel depends upon which section of the hotel my room is located on. If I am facing east, I can get a beautiful view of the sunrise over the hills, and of the aircraft, with their lights turned on, lining up to land on the runway that runs close to the hotel. If my room faces south, I can see the planes fly right by my window at a very low altitude. To the west, I can view aircraft taking off from the airport, and I can also enjoy the glorious colors of sunset (if I manage to get back from work at a decent time). The planes look very nice in the light of either the rising or setting sun. To the north, I can observe the planes approach the airport at a significant height (since the runways start further away from the hotel), framed by the hills to the north of LA and the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles in the distance. The rays of the rising sun hitting the skyscrapers of downtown LA can create a unique and beautiful sight that lasts for just a few moments. I am usually awake well before dawn because of the difference in time zones, and I spend time looking for things to photograph in the distance. I sometimes wander down the hallways of the hotel to try to get a good spot to take a picture – to find the particular angle that, at the right time, offers a unique perspective. I have to admit that my pictures do not come out well since I am dealing with non-ideal conditions for photography, and a camera with limited capability. But I keep trying. And the hotel staff have not yet stopped me from doing what I am doing. ************************
It has been many years since I last visited Los Angeles. I still have a lot of memories of my trips. The Westin Airport LAX is still in operation.
Sample pictures taken from the Westin during that period of time are in the next blog.
The most interesting part of the travelogue for me was the description of the steps being taken in China to combat COVID-19. What they are doing must be having an impact based on the numbers we are seeing. We look like relative fools here in the USA. Our leadership is failing. Soon we will be number one, and it will not be a positive thing. Shame on us.
Disaster struck a couple of days before I was to leave India to return to the USA. There was an ambush of the military in the state of Kashmir that resulted in the death of a large number of Indian soldiers. These kinds of events happen every once in a while due ongoing conflict in the state. These incidents are serious enough to create an international crisis, with two nuclear armed forces facing each other, eyeball to eyeball, across a disputed border. Wars have been fought between India and Pakistan in the past because of this situation, and border incidents happen with frightening regularity.
My flight back from Delhi to Washington DC was happening a couple of days after the incident in Kashmir, and the flight path was about to closely follow the great circle route, the path that had taken me close to the North Pole on the way in to India. This path took the aircraft, an Air India Boeing 777-300ER jetliner, over Pakistan, the “enemy” in this case. I was not sure what was going to happen to my flight back home. Fortunately, things went as planned. The flight took the expected path in spite of the tension between the countries.
The retaliation for the ambush of the military in Kashmir finally happened just a few days ago. This time, in response to the retaliation, the government of Pakistan appears to have shut down its airspace to all commercial traffic (not just that from India). I wondered what would happen to the flights between Washington DC and Delhi. I checked out Flightaware. This is what I saw regarding the flight that took off from IAD to DEL on Wednesday (2/27/2019).The flight actually took a longer route than was normal, adding about a couple of hours to what was already a long flight, and it did not fly the great circle route, the route that would had taken the least time. As is obvious from the last section of this flight, this route was taken to avoid flying over Pakistan.
On the other hand, the inbound flight from DEL to IAD, one that had been flown by the same aircraft just prior to this, had followed the expected route.The situation had changed between the flight heading out of Delhi to Washington DC and its return back to Delhi.
Conflicts have all kinds of consequences, and this was one of them. It could not have been nice for the people on the flight. Peace, y’all!
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.
Lockheed 1049F Super Constellation with Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer
Boeing 307 Stratoliner Clipper Flying Cloud
Concorde and Dassault Falcon 20
If you are fascinated by aeroplanes just like I am, read more specific details about some of these aircraft, and see pictures of some of their transitions to the museum, at the following links provided by the Smithsonian.
For this week’s challenge, I scrambled around looking for any and all pictures taken during recent travels that could be relevant to the theme of windows, regardless of the context in which the theme could be invoked. The result could appear to be somewhat scattershot. Perhaps the real unifying theme is that these pictures a part of larger stories that appear elsewhere in my blogs.
During our recent visit to New England, we stayed one evening at a lovely Bed and Breakfast establishment in Gorham, NH. I wandered around early in the morning, taking the following pictures that showcase some of the windows in this old home.The following pictures were taken during the same New England trip in Tip-Top House, which used to be a hotel right at the top of Mt. Washington in NH. The entire facility still exists in its original form even though it is not in use today. The windows here seemed somewhat small. Perhaps they are that way in order to minimize the loss of heat.The following pictures were taken from the window of my plane on my way to the Canadian Rockies for a six day bike ride.The following pictures were taken from the window of our van as we drove into Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies for the start of the bike ride.These last pictures was taken during the rescue operation after the bike ride, during my train ride from Edmonton to Toronto on The Canadian.
Here are a couple of really old pictures, not necessarily of great quality, with observations of layering.
One can perhaps guess the circumstances under which the first picture was taken, and if you look more carefully, you can see that there are people in another aircraft, maybe a few hundred feet away from us, who have a similar viewpoint.Layering of colors is fairly typical when your aircraft is heading towards the sunset. (You can also make out the edge of the wing of our aircraft in the picture below.)Submission for the Weekly Photo Challenge.