Brussels to London Heathrow – The Tale of a Fantastic Flight
Brussels – London Heathrow. The most exciting flight of my whole life! And I flew a lot.
The airline doesn’t matter, as my experience has been of pure aviation. Leaving from Brussels we hear the captain’s voice through the speaker: “…the outside temperature is +12°, we will be flying at 32.000 feet, and the weather is actually quit bad: we have very strong winds, and we’ll go through heavy turbulence. Enjoy your flight, and thank you for choosing Virgin Express.” He must have been a psychologist before being an aeroplane pilot…
I am not worried at all, as I feel quite comfortable into turbulence, as being a pilot myself, I know that turbulence is not dangerous and it’s within the ordinary… actually on large airliners I fall asleep much easier when the plane shakes rather than when it goes smoothly.
In Great Britain the sky is “alive”. Clouds move fast and beautifully. The sky never looks the same for too long, especially up in Scotland. It looks like clouds are dancing in all directions, composing incredible scenarios and playing with the light the sun offers. This is due to the jet stream that undulates over Northern Great Britain.
Back to our flight, as we get closer to the “island” I decide to start looking outside, as a way of greeting the country on sight. Suddenly the pilot pulls back on the engines of the small Boeing 737, and we start descending with quit a drop, and the ears clog slightly. The sky is scattered, so I can see here and there and I can spot Leigh-on-Sea, where my Granny lives. I love spotting places and things from the plane, it makes me feel like I am flying the plane myself.
We get through some clouds, and I can see more of what is below. I can spot a small airport at the horizon, but I don’t know which one that is. The plane starts turning left and right here and there, suggesting that we entered the extra busy “class B” airspace of London Heathrow; one of the world’s busiest airspace. It’s late in the afternoon, and the sun is kind of low giving that great yellow/orange light over everything. I try to look what’s underneath the plane, and with my great surprise and curiosity I see a big Boeing 747 flagged “Pakistan Airlines”, flying in our same direction slightly slower, and at just 1000 feet below us. It’s fantastic to see this kind of “life” in the sky. When flying on a big airliner, one has always the impression of being alone in the sky, because there are not that many chances of spotting other aircraft as a passenger. Seeing two big airliners flying in formation (sort of) is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen. It’s like seeing two buildings flying together. The 747 then banks to the left and I lose sight of it.
Meanwhile we arrived over London. The pilot slowly extends the flaps, that in an airliner look more like if a robot from a Japanese cartoon was transforming itself into a prehistoric beast in slow motion or vice versa. At this point I try my best to spot the places I know, convinced of the fact that the plane will never fly right over central London, and that if it ever did we would have had everything covered by clouds. Well, time goes by, and I suddenly spot the Themes river. “Fantastic!” I said. Now I am looking for the City, then for Tower Bridge. Many bridges go by, but I can’t see the one I am looking for. We are very low over the city, maybe 3000 feet. Everything is so clear, and the light is superb. There it is! Tower Bridge! Then after that as in a chain reaction, I immediately spot everything else. As I am scanning the ground with great interest, the pilot banks to the right (luckily my side) to enters a “360”. This is what I had been waiting for, just over London, and I could have never imagined that it was going to happen. The “right 360” was probably ordered by “Heathrow Tower” for spacing to let the Pakistan Airlines 747 land before us. At this point I really begin to enjoy the view. While we turn, the light inside the plane changes as if the sun was moving instead of us. Everything is so clear, and I can spot right away whatever I am looking for. Damn! I don’t have my camera handy, this is really worth some shots. The sun reflected over the Thames river backlights the buildings, and the fast moving clouds that touch our wings and the once farther away, tell us that we are moving and not just looking at a postcard. It looks like a dream; I feel like Peter Pan flying over London in the famous Disney’s cartoon.
Once we got back to the correct heading I see Richmond Park that from the sky, and with that particular light it looked simply fantastic, followed by Richmond Golf Course. After that we can only see houses, and the view becomes more ordinary; sign that we are arriving at Heathrow airport.
Once talking to a British Military pilot, I asked him how it feels to fly around London, and he told me without thinking twice about it, that… “it can give you pretty big headac