This was a flight to LA with an almost silent crew. There was no announcement from the flight deck apart from a reading of the US non congregation rule and thankfully an advice that what we could see from the left hand side of the aircraft was the Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. As this indicates, the flight path was a northerly one. This had the advantage that the modern equivalent of the dark night of the soul was broken by a crossing of the big island of Hawaii. I think the band of lights on the horizon must have been Honolulu. The bright lights of the Kona coast were clearly visible and then a few other lights. The flight path seemed to be direct overhead Hilo, so only a few lights were visible on the east coast of the island. I had hoped to see the red glow of volcanic eruptions or the shadows of the mountains against the moon, but if the lava can be seen, I was too far north and looking in the wrong direction. The mountains were invisible.
Perhaps because of the northerly course the arrival into Los Angeles was to the north of the airport. We flew over the CBD area past the famous Hollywood sign before making some sharp right hand turns for the final approach.
Flight 107 has now moved to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles and as we were the only aircraft around it meant fast immigration and customs and instant security on the way back in. Everyone was ready to leave on time but we waited almost an hour for 19 passengers from Melbourne who arrived on the new airbus, which I saw for the first time in Qantas livery.
The Los Angeles – New York leg of the trip, as usual, seemed to pass in no time at all. Although a flight attendant told me the track was over Las Vegas, we were well south of it and just to the north of Flagstaff. I think I saw the Grand Canyon again but unlike last year there was no announcement about it.
Then long periods of cloud cover from before the Rockies to near St. Louis. Some views of rural America including the distinctive patterns of the world financial crisis as seen from outer space. Mile after mile of new housing development, this time to the north of Indianapolis.
At last, arrival into New York, flying down the Hudson River to what was said to be an approach from the south to JFK. There were so many twists and turns and corkscrew maneuvers that in the end I had no idea what direction we were headed but we eventually landed about ten minutes later than the time estimated at the beginning of the descent.
My driver from the airport was an American story in himself. He talked New York but told me he had emigrated from Afghanistan at the age of eight. “There is fear in the city”, he told me “people aren’t coming to New York to see their bankers anymore – our business is down 20 -25% year on year”