How Can You Not Love Flying?

categories: europe travel

Windsor Castle

How can you not love flying?

I just flew out of Heathrow airport in London as the sun sank low on the horizon. As we gained altitude Windsor Castle came into view, a British landmark so associated with the royal family that they took their family name from it when the German family name seemed inappropriate during World War II. The massive castle with it’s round central keep stood out from the town around it. Only the nearby cathedral offered any rivalry to it’s view.

Not far from the castle I spotted the distinct outline of a Romanesque church with it’s round arches and solid walls that predate the flying buttresses of the gothic style.

We passed near lakes including one with what appeared to be a jump ramp and with water-skiers or jet-skiers disturbing the surface of the water like so many water bugs.

The land was filled with irregularly shaped fields and hedgerows of various sizes so different from the regular square fields that one sees in the mid-west of the United States. These fields were almost certainly recorded in the Dooms Day Book after the conquest of William the conqueror in 1066. This maze of fields is cut through here and there by rivers and by canals that carried so much of The countryside’s goods to market before the age of steam and railroads.

A bright red hot air balloon and a small plane taking off from a grass airfield seemed to hug the ground from our vantage point high above them.

The unmistakable cooling towers of a Nuclear power plant punctuated the landscape as if to say that all the history laid out before me was not from a country frozen in time.

Finally my view of the country below was shrouded by beautiful puffy white clouds catching the rays of the setting sun.

I understand that some people hate to fly. The security lines, the long layovers (mine was over four hours in Heathrow), the hassles with luggage (both types, carry-on and lost) have robbed them of the wonder that I had when I sat as a child with my nose pressed to the airplane window. Not me. Give me the window seat any day and don’t be surprised to find my nose prints on it.

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

9 Responses to “How Can You Not Love Flying?”

Gordon Calder


Hi Chris,

As I am local to the area, just a couple of corrections:-

The “cathedral” you mention is the Eton College Chapel, and the Nuclear power plant is actually the Mars (Chocolate) factory.

Also, the photo you used was taken by me, and although the picture is under full copyright, I don’t mind you using it as long as you give me a credit for the photo.


Gordon Calder



I totally love this post! It is so refreshing after hearing so many complaints and negative discussions about air travel. I’m with you…I never lose the excitement of air travel. Even when I traveled every week for over 3 years with my last job. I saw an amazing thunderstorm from the air, witnessed many beautiful sunsets (I’m not much for morning flights, or sunrises would be on the list, too), and admired a myriad of cloud formations from the air. The badlands and mountains you see while heading east from Vegas are unmatched.



Sorry Gorden, I used the flickr button for including it which usually only shows up when it is sharable and gives the appropriate credit. I love the shot. Where you in a small plane?



Ah yes, did you mouse over the photo? That’s how the flickr code shows the credit.

Julian Fletcher


Chris, I totally relate to this piece you have written. As a proud Brit (albeit one who lives mostly outside my own country), I love to gaze out of the window whenever I am flying over my home country, especially in the south-east corner of England, where I am from. Many times I have flown over towns I have lived in before, and have even been able to pick out the house on occasions.

Josh Allen


I’m a pilot out of the northeast in the US and agree 100% with your views on flying and the joy you get looking out the window. About a week or 2 ago the leaves hit their peak in New England an I’ve been lucky enough to be flying around the area. Looking down at all the colors and then to have the sun setting is truly amazing. Lots of things look more impressive from the air, beaches, mountains etc…its a great way to live!



Love this post! So true – but only when taking off and landing – LOL flying can also be boring and annoying when its a redeye or over an ocean or so high all you see is clouds for 5 hours…

some other amazing thoughts about flying:

1. when you fly east to west at just the right speed and sunset lasts 4-5 hours (europe to New york, CA to Japan, etc)

2. When you fly in to a huge metropolis at sunset (my favorite: into LGA from the south over manhattan and then queens with orange hued buildings and deep shadows showing how 3D all is)

3. flying into Malta we missed a landing because of air traffic went around the WHOLE ISLAND like a free tour before landing! really nice perspective!

see…. even a delay can have a silver lining!

Jessi Strong


Well said! this reminds me a little bit of the wonder GK Chesterton expressed about train stations in his essay “On Running After One’s Hat”:

“Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No; for to him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder and a palace of poetical pleasures. Because to him the red light and the green light on the signal are like a new sun and a new moon. Because to him when the wooden arm of the signal falls down suddenly, it is as if a great king had thrown down his staff as a signal and started a shrieking tournament of trains. … Many of the most purple hours of my life have been passed at Clapham Junction.”



great quote Jessi!

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