Bird's-eye Views

Business Jet Traveler » April 2008
While looking through showers when the sun is low, look for full-circle rainb
Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - 5:00am

You probably don't give much thought to the windows in your airplane's cabin. With the tasteful interiors and all the office and entertainment amenities available on private aircraft today, the windows might seem as though they exist solely to shed natural sunlight on the hand-rubbed rosewood finish of the pop-up computer desk. And while you may be inclined to darken the cabin soon after you board for easier viewing of a Powerpoint presentation or DVD movie, may I suggest this somewhat novel alternative? Instead of lowering the window shades, leave them up and spend some time looking outside.

As a passenger on a business jet, you have many advantages over airline passengers. Larger windows is one. So why not enjoy the view? True, in some weather, it doesn't matter how big the airplane's windows are. When you're flying inside clouds, it all looks the same outside-in daytime, some say, it's like flying inside a ping-pong ball. At these times, you might as well sit back, sip a beverage and catch up on some work or watch a movie.

But often enough, there really is something worth seeing outside.

For example, your departure airport-when you travel by business jet-is more likely to be close to your home or office. Here's a good opportunity to catch a bird's-eye view of the terrain over which you may normally crawl along in traffic at a snail's pace. Your pilots can show you on a road map what route you'll likely be following on climb-out. At low altitude, it's easy to notice how the river bends lazily through your city. Or you may discover how close to home that lake is where your kids have been bugging you to take them fishing.

Even if the weather down low is murky and landscapes aren't on the play list for the flight, you could be treated to towering, sun-dappled cloud formations after you break out above the overcast. Clouds are fascinating to watch at any time-even at night in a moonlit sky-but especially when the sun is rising and setting. While flying through showers when the sun is low, look for full-circle rainbows moving along next to your aircraft. If the airplane flies toward a bright cumulus cloud with the sun directly behind the airplane, you'll see through the front cockpit windows the shadow of the aircraft on the cloud in the middle of two full-circle rainbows. As you fly closer, the shadow and rainbows get bigger- you'll feel as if you are on the point of an arrow heading toward a target. And a churning, lightning-charged thunderstorm-viewed from a prudent distance at altitude-offers an awe-inspiring overview of nature's unbridled power.

One perk you likely enjoy as a business jet traveler is having some say regarding the flight path. If you'd like to have a look at a property or geographic feature near your destination, it might be possible for the pilots to dogleg the arrival route to overfly it. There's a lot you can tell about a piece of real estate-good and bad-when you have that kind of perspective. You might even want to snap some photos. A picture showing a landfill just beyond a tree line of a possible vacation home or new office location could be worth not only a thousand words but perhaps millions of dollars.

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Quote/Unquote

“[New billionaires in fast-growing countries] have to buy longer-range airplanes. If you’re flying from Mongolia to Nigeria, it’s either a three-day journey flying commercial or a nine-hour flight on your jet.”

-Steve Varsano