Sunday, 28 November 2010

Thoughts from my 1st transatlantic flight

1075 miles or 2 hours and 5 minutes from landing in JFK international airport, I was flying over North America for the very first time. Here are my thoughts from that point in our transatlantic flight to New York, my very first time across the pond.

"The map on the screen in front of me on our Virgin Atlantic flight had the nearest city down as Goose Bay but it was still a long way off as I couldn't see it out of the window. Maybe I was on the wrong side of the plane?

The flight so far has been a good one. I've watched two movies, The Other Guys and Dinner for Schmucks (both good movies though Dinner for Schmucks was my favourite of the two), had a meal, a couple of snacks and have had plenty of wine - kudos to Virgin for basically recreating our living room but making it fly. The free sky bar is just the icing on the cake! Even after a few glasses of red wine I managed to beat the chess game on medium setting so either the AI on the game isn't up to scratch or the wine needs to be a higher percentage :P

So far however, apart from the excitement of heading to a continent I've never visited before, the main highlight of the flight (Norngirl's manic smiling aside) has been a fly-by of the Virgin Atlantic Orlando flight. It flew by underneath us at a safe distance, both flights seemingly flying on the path of plaited hair criss crossing in the skies. It flew by close enough to see the plane properly, to be able to read the Virgin sign and to see the trail of its engines like air rising from a heater. Amazing to see as you see it on adverts but never in the sky and it was like being able to see a mirror of the vehicle you were in but from the outside, zipping through the sky like a bird, well, if birds could survive at minus whatever ridiculous temperature the outside air temperature is. In the middle of the Labrador sea at 38,000ft it was quite a sight to see another plane so close.

There has been one disappointment so far but this was entirely self made. I really want to see/visit Greenland and the path of the flight at its closest point that has already passed didn't take us close enough for me to glimpse it. Thankfully the view of Canada I do have out of my window is quite enough to satisfy my Geography nerdiness. The islands off the coast were leaving trails of white disturbance in the wake of their shorelines in relation to the prevailing currents as they flew by us. At this point in time I'm seeing more lakes, hills and forests than I've probably ever seen at once.

Though I'm heading to New York, I would love to also visit the part of Canada below me - nay, all of Canada! Maybe one day :)

Even from the skies it looks to be a beautiful, if not a scarily remote, part of the world. If I'm not seeing ice, sand or rivers, it's the browns, greys, greens and blues of the forests, hills and lakes. By the coast it looks like bacterial cultures in a petri dish peppering the landscape ending with a barrier of pristine looking coastline.

When we fly it amazes me how small Northern Ireland and the UK really is in comparison and overall how small the world really is too! Although I do go on a lot about what in reality is a tiny part of the planet's surface, these times really are a good reminder at how amazing the world is and how much there is out there. Something which puts it into even greater perspective the size of our little planet in the universe.

I've decided to take in some music for the rest of the journey and though we're on one of the older planes without the on demand media, there is a channel playing music I caught onto whilst browsing through them all. As I see the first signs of inhabited North America with strips of cleared land either side of lines dissecting the wilderness, I'm listening to the sounds of Seth Lakeman and what sounds to be folk rock. Quite apt for the tranquil looking scene from so high in sky.

The linear settlements have been closely followed by highways and small towns, I got a little lost in looking out into the distance there and apparently now close below us is Bangor, Maine (not to be confused by the Northern Irish or Welsh or any other Bangors). I have to say that from the air it really does look like something from a Stephen King book, he wasn't just making it up!

We've filled in our immigration form and are ready to see what NYC has instore for us. In all honesty, apart from movies, TV, books and blogs, I've not really any idea what to expect when we land. We plan to get a cab from the airport to our hotel and I can't wait to be somewhere new and to have every glance out of every window to be a new sight. I'm so very much looking forward to this trip for our anniversary that I just can't wait to see it all for myself."


  1. Sounds great, we're counting down to our Canadian trip :) But that's still MONTHS away! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip :)

  2. I remember the first flight I took to another continent. It was from Miami to Bogota in '02. I was scared WITLESS.

    Now it's no big deal. I might even hop on a flight over to NI in the spring. I just about have the Mrs convinced to go w/me. :-)

  3. Can I come with you guys Katie, I'll work on coming in under the weight limit for when I'm in the suitcase, I'll have to consider the removal of an arm and leg but it might be do-able. Would love to go to Canada, I am very jealous! :)

    Cool JD, if you do come I hope you like it here, its a pretty part of the world but just remember to bring an umbrella, if you need any advice on your travels here just drop me a mail or alternatively, Trip Advisor's Belfast forum is really good! This wasn't my first long haul flight, for our honeymoon we went to Mauritius and that was a 12 hour flight there but this was the first time with jet lag with a big time difference :-S
    I love flying though, the more turbulence the better, its like a free roller-coaster ride for free! :D

  4. Cool JD, if you do come I hope you like it here, its a pretty part of the world but just remember to bring an umbrella

    Which reminds me, Bogota is much like I would imagine London (or the UK in general) to be like. Chilly, damp, overcast and always with a possibility of rain. Alot of people carry their umbrellas with them whenever they are out and about in Bogota also.

    One of the Economics instructors that I had back in the day was from Mauritius.



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