As Above, So Below
In 1959, when I was 8 years old, I had my first memorable ascension in a turbo prop BOAC airliner, flying loudly from my birthplace of New York City to Scotland, where my father had secured a one year teaching job/sabbatical in Saint Andrews Scotland (the home of golf), on the cool and foggy edge of the North Sea. Waking up to the brightening dawn after a long trans Atlantic flight, I looked down from my window seat and saw the emerald green shores of Ireland far below us. I marveled at the tiny toy houses, the miniature sheep and cattle the size of ants beneath our wings, and the luminescent clouds and fog glowing and glistening in the gathering daylight. It was my first view of the world from a God’s eye perspective, and the wonder of that initial view from above stays with me to this day every time I rise above the bounds of gravity aboard any aircraft. Ever since then I have loved flying and the marvelous and ever changing views available from a flying machine. I always sit by the window and look out and photograph the endless wonders of whatever is passing below. I have flown in helicopters, 747’s, seaplanes and a friend’s tiny single engined Cessna called out as “Skywagon180 Zulu Romeo” to the air traffic controllers, and there is always a wonderful and magnificent spectacle passing below, calling out to be recorded, remembered and photographed.
Ten years later, when I was 18 and a freshman at Stanford University, I had the good fortune to enjoy a picnic lunch at the classically Greek styled Pulgas Water Temple in rural Woodside California, (the terminus of San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy water system), with Richard Brautigan (poet, novelist, hippie writer icon and author of “Trout Fishing in America” ) and Stuart Brand (Merry Prankster, Futurist, Ecologist and editor and publisher of the Iconic Whole Earth Catalog, a compendium of all things worthwhile and wonderful for the future of society and life in the early 1970’s). The cover of The Whole Earth Catalog featured the first NASA photo of the entire earth seen from space, floating serenely in the cosmic void. This was the first image most Americans had ever seen of the Whole Earth. The photo was followed with the tag line “We can’t put it together. It is together.” After seeing that photo I was determined to record my adventures above the earth, and this book is a compendium of some of those images, taken over the last 30 plus years whenever I got inside of an airplane with a window seat. I love the vast vistas that open up as one ascends, the mountains peeking through the clouds, the fractured geometry of man altered farmlands, impossibly angular canals, dykes, reservoirs and water projects, gridded cityscapes, forests, fires, rugged expanses of wilderness, lakes, seas, endless oceans and the spectacular ever changing panorama of clouds on the move, capped with turbulence, rumbling thunderheads and sometimes sudden explosive bolts of jagged lightning. It is all so beautiful, mesmerizing and stunningly wonderful to be able to fly far above the earth! After millions of years, we have become birds, the impossible dream of our ancestors.
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