Winston Aldworth 's Opinion

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: The wonder of flight

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The weird mechanics and the sheer beauty of flight still have the capacity to leave Winston Aldworth awestruck.

Sometimes it's easy to forget the wonder of flight. Photo / Winston Aldworth
Sometimes it's easy to forget the wonder of flight. Photo / Winston Aldworth

Bleary-eyed and knackered from a fortnight of looking after the kids, I flopped into a window seat aboard Jetstar's JQ245 on Saturday morning. Auckland to Christchurch has never looked more beautiful.

I'd gone through the usual scramble to get organised, get packed, get babysitters and get to the airport, where I slugged back one coffee before taking my seat.

Once the A320 had taken us through the low cloud, I gawped at the scenery.

Auckland had been grey and humourless; up there was sunshine and glorious open space. Flight - the weird mechanics of it and the sheer beauty of it - still has the capacity to leave me awestruck.

Down by Waiuku, the steel mill poked its head above the low cloud that hugged the land.

As I always do, be it a cloudy day or a clear one, I looked down and took a guess at where Mum and Dad's house would be. Out at the coast, thin cotton wool contrails darted away from the dense fog, poking their way out and ultimately fading over the Tasman Sea, thousands of metres below me.

The old adage about airline passengers being shaved monkeys in a tin can hurtling through the air is true, but we're becoming so familiar with flying because it's so marvellously accessible, that often we're mere commuters.

Most of the other passengers on my Saturday morning flight wore the expression of bored bus passengers - and, quite honestly, I'm usually with them, my nose in a book.

Just a century ago, no one could have imagined taking in views like these. Our great-great-grandparents would never have dreamed of seeing Mt Taranaki from the air.

On Saturday, Taranaki was cloudless as we zipped past, just to his west. We swung in over the golden hook of Farewell Spit. It's one of the few parts of the country I've not been to, and each time I fly over it I wonder how I've let that happen.

But the most stunning part of the journey came after Nelson. We hummed over the the Southern Alps, the early sun carving massive, undulating blue patterns across the mountains.

Whatever you read elsewhere in this publication today, remember that flying isn't just the safest way of getting to where you're going, it's also the most wonderful.

- NZ Herald

Winston Aldworth

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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