Air, Earth & Water02.09.2016

From Sinatra to U2 in 75 minutes

Andrea Pountcheva

From Sinatra to U2 in 75 minutes

“Come fly with me” was a common favourite song for a friend and I. We hummed it even when he was going through his pre-flight checks on a small airport near Leeds, UK, where he took off for the first time as a licensed pilot with a PPL. As a “Thank you” for years of support and friendship, he took me as his right seat in the otherwise 4-seat Cessna 172. We put our baggage behind – literally and figuratively – and took off to the English sky.

The same Frank Sinatra song makes its way to my head now too, as I fasten my seatbelt – again on the co-pilot's seat, next to Hampus. He’s a Swedish pilot, who recently got his license as a commercial pilot and who is indulging my geeky interest in aviation. While at the Lesnovo runway (30 km from Sofia) he does the preflight checks, he also tells me this and that about Cessna 182’s cabin where we are today.

[check out the video from the flight below]

In the 75 minutes that follow I get to see Bulgaria in a way that few people have. From a bird’s eye view every cloud, every hillside, every tree branch comes together with the rest, creating harmony.

The small airplane is dancing with the wind, the sun is smiling and Bulgaria is revealing herself in her lavish beauty.

The almost endless water surface of the Pancharevo lake and the Iskar dam make me feel guilt over not having seen them before.

The serpentine road between Sofia and Borovets embedded in the mountain lead me to imagine a snowy winter afternoon, a hot cup of tea in my hand after a whole day spent skiing – even though it's still summer outside.

Looking at the round moss-green hills of the Rila mountain I begin to appreciate every breath of fresh air, as I am thrust into considering taking better care of my own health and body.

I’m not the first one who finds in this panoramic flight a feeling of interconnectedness between humans and nature. There’s something else here that I find interesting, though: JetOps, our Swedish pilot’s employer, is a company based in Dubai and as it turns out, they are the only ones who offer scenic tours around Sofia and the Rila mountains. I ponder about the long arm – or wing – of globalization. Ironically, sometimes we need the Middle East to help us discover our own country.

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We descend back towards the ground, while the yellow flowers in the field underneath us are swaying from the wind, as if saying „Goodbye”.

The wheels touch down on the asphalt.

I’m left in high spirits, so to speak, staying with me the whole day. I think of U2’s music video for “Beautiful day”, shot on Charles de Gaulle’s tarmac near Paris. Planes taking off and landing, and Bono, walking the line, without a care in the world.

[screenshot from U2's Beautiful Day]

Having once looked at my life from above, with a sense of my own insignificance before the might of millions of years of evolution, I seem to have more energy to capture each moment.

This flight is a present.

"It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away", Bono sings. I don’t intend to.

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