I don’t fly a lot. I’m not a world traveler, but I’ve had my fair share of plane rides – a few around Europe and South America and several throughout the US. However, in all those flights I’d never witnessed a sunset from 38,000 feet, at least not from a window seat.
Over the Christmas holiday we visited my wife’s family in Hawaii and on the plane ride back to San Francisco I got a window seat and a firsthand view of the sunset over the Pacific from seven miles up in the air.
The view itself wasn’t that incredible, just a bunch of clouds over water. It was the color that was spectacular. I watched the rich orange glow of the fading sun illuminate the clouds – from the low cumulus miles below, to the high cirrus nearly level with our cruising altitude – until finally the plane itself was awash in dramatic alpenglow. Traveling at 500 miles per hour, the warm light lasted just a few minutes before we continued east, away from the sunset and into the encroaching night where everything turned to pale darkness.