The joy of flight like it used to be

Flying now includes more opportunities for feet on the ground on the far side of the departure...
Flying now includes more opportunities for feet on the ground on the far side of the departure lounge glass. PHOTOS: BRUCE MUNRO
This is as good as I remember it being.

Out of my window-seat porthole is a vision of blue, white and green; a cloudless sky, snow-capped mountains, the greens of bush and pasture, the blues of river and sea.

My trip from Dunedin to Wellington is a welcome return to the pleasures of air travel. It has been too long since I last felt the buzz of airports, the anticipation of new experiences, the wonder of flight and the joy of viewing the world from above.

Today, I should have been in the middle of an overseas holiday. But along came a global pandemic and a lockdown that stretched from homes to the heavens.

A couple of months later, passenger planes are back in the air, although almost exclusively confined to national borders.

So, instead, while my sister and her family are on a repatriation flight from the Philippines, I am seated on a twin propeller ATR72 bound for the Windy City.

It is decades since New Zealand’s main airports were this quiet at noon.
It is decades since New Zealand’s main airports were this quiet at noon.
Air travel has changed, at least for the meantime.

For weeks, Air New Zealand has been the only show in town. Now Jetstar has rejoined the game. All those other colourful, emblematic, tail feathers that adorned runways throughout the country, however, have disappeared over the horizon whence they came. The black-and-white fern reigns supreme, supplemented by an orange star.

For the moment, airports are quieter and planes are smaller. It means more walks on tarmac, offset by more room on board. Not to mention flights that, in most cases, do not climb above 18,000 feet.

Today, on a crisp, clear morning, it means I sit back and drink in a wonderful, hour-long panorama sliding past my window; a vision rendered in intense colour and high definition of a wide verdant land, sparsely populated, segmented by paddock hedges and rivers flowing from distant thrusting mountains beneath an endless blue sky to an equally expansive ocean far beneath my feet.

Finally, flying again.

 

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