Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's the Most Exhilarating Experience Ever

In my life, I have only been up in an airplane about six times. To Vancouver and back in 2004. To Atlanta, and then San Diego, and back, in 2008.

You wouldn't really find me fun to sit with on an airplane unless you enjoyed or liked or appreciate my marveling out the window, the look on my face, and my excitement.

It's an experience for me that very few things can match, other than deep emotional stuff. While some people use drugs or love (me included in that one) to get high on something, I get high by getting high - up in the air (and experiencing love).

I've always mentioned my huge interest in aerial photography. Being actually up in the air, however high, though, is the real thing, and I go crazy for it. I love heights while people are scared of them.

The first time I went up in an airplane was on my 12th birthday. It was cool. I really enjoyed it. We flew around the city in a big circle for about an hour at a height of 2000 feet. My mother took many photos. The only problem was that the plane flew nowhere near my neighborhood at the time. The most I saw of Meadowlands was a big green square in the distance (we were flying somewhere over Westboro and I was trying to look south). I knew that I was looking at the field that is Inverness Park. I could also barely see the four apartment blocks that surround the townhouses in which I lived, just rising over the sea of green trees.

My trip to Vancouver in 2004 though was several times better than the fly-over on my 12th birthday. We were in a big Air Canada plane that took off and went many many times higher than the little thing we'd flew in last time. It was the takeoff that got and always gets me to this day - we took off in a northwest direction, not an east direction away from Nepean, and I immediately recognized everything in astonishment. I couldn't believe the pinpricks of light on the roads that were cars (this was the late afternoon), and I couldn't believe how small and narrow some busy roads looked, like West Huntclub or Merivale Road, which I'd always known to be wide and busy and just big. I saw landmarks I recognized from a neighborhood perspective, not a city perspective.

Then in 2008 I'd be sitting in another, smaller plane in the early morning. I'm lucky I had my camera with me right then. I got as many photos as possible.

It's always the takeoff that will get me because it is over Ottawa and things get smaller as we get higher. I end up almost worrying people near me who are wondering what I'm going nuts about. 
The only thing I hated about my photos was that it was hard to focus through the thick window when I zoomed out with the camera (I had the point and shoot then) and it blurred potential images of Arlington Woods (where my grandparents live) The College shopping centre and Baseline Station, one of my shots of Barrhaven (I was super-excited to finally see the big rectangular suburb for real from the air) and other scenes.

The next time I'm on an airplane I'm definitely getting more shots. If I get a window seat - which I better! As well, I've annoyingly never been on a plane that has descended into Ottawa over Barrhaven - it's under a flight path yet I've never been on a plane that uses it, I've always come in from the darn east. My darn mother has been luckier than me in that regard, as well as a friend of mine, and I end up looking at their oblique aerial photos taken from the window instead.

Heights are where I am the most comfortable, at the moment. Even if it's just at the top of a big ferris wheel. Or the CN Tower (which I'd spent many hours in when I went).

Justin C.

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