HORIZON – A Pilot’s Story

Cruise

This is a pilot’s story.

The entire departure had been smooth and uneventful. The Airbus A320 had just reached it’s cruise level of thirty-six thousand feet. The systems had been checked and all that was left to do now was perform an initial fuel report. 

BEE BEE BEE BEE BEE! The cockpit door’s alerting system was warning Cap and Luke, the captain and first officer, that someone wanted to enter the flight deck. Cap looked over his shoulder at the view screen and confirmed the identity of the person outside. It was the cabin manager, holding two white boxes. Dinner time. Cap twisted the toggle switch to unlock the flight deck door, and the cabin manager entered.

“Dinner lads!” Michael called out. “Who wanted the Paella?” Cap took the Paella and thanked Michael. 

*

With his stomach full, the smell of toasted bread rolls and paella still lingering within the flight deck, it was now time to sit back. Cap twisted the central belt buckle, releasing the shoulder straps. Still a little tight, so he then released the tension a little on the waist straps. That was better.

“Hey Cap, passing EMPER, you’re two minutes early and just under two-hundred kilos up on fuel.” The first officer, reported. EMPER was one of the waypoints in the aircraft’s navigation database.

“Cheers Luke, we’ll do a position report to Shanwick when we’re a little closer to LASNO.” LASNO, once again being another navigation waypoint. 

The first officer was a decent guy. The two pilots had had a little chat about hobbies, family, home renovations and other bits and bobs. The usual stuff you talk about when you’re on a five hour flight with someone you don’t know. Now though, it was time for some distance. Cap turned the lights down a little. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the glare shield and stared out at the outside world.

The night sky

At first, everything was dark. Even if the thick, rolling blanket of clouds hadn’t been unfolding below them, it would all still be dark. This routing had been filed because of the all too frequent French ATC strikes. No big deal. A few hundred extra kilo’s of fuel and a twenty minute increase in flight time. At least it got rid of that gosh awful slot! The routing was via the North Atlantic corridor known as Tango 9. This meant that below that rolling blanket of cloud, there was nothing but the deep, undulating ocean. With nothing to see below, Cap looked above into the navy, night sky.

After a short while, the darkness started to lose it’s faltering grip on the light. The thick, blue veil of night began sprout tiny freckles of glimmer. These continued to blossom, transforming into long wisps of shimmering dust, streaming across the universe above them. Incredible to think that I‘m staring at our own Milky Way, Cap thought to himself. It was truly a humbling sight to behold. 

With the night sky now alive with dancing starlight, the distant separation of the sky from the sea was becoming visible. The infamous line had teased seamen and other travellers for centuries before, beckoning them onwards to a place they would never reach. It was like riding a bicycle and constantly trying to catch the front wheel. No matter how fast you went, it always evaded you. Tonight was the night though. Tonight, Cap felt confident.

With his emotions powered by starlight and the gentle drone of the twin LEAP-1A engines providing tens of thousands of pounds of thrust behind him, Cap focussed his sight on the immovable line ahead of him. It stretched from left to right as far as his vision would allow him to see. In his mind’s eye, he imagined himself piloting the fastest, most advanced craft ever known. He visualised applying full thrust, accelerating the craft beyond normality and into the unknown. Then, quietly, he whispered to himself, “Bring me that horizon.”

The end

I know this has been a little different from my usual posts. I’ve mentioned before that one of my passions is writing. So with that in mind, I felt I needed to write something more fiction related. I hope you enjoyed it. If you want me to write a short story on a particular subject (regarding aviation), then please do get in touch here.

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See you in the next one!

Happy contrails,

The Humble Pilot