Space travel has long captured the imagination of the human race. Something mysterious happens when you see the planet from above.
William Shatner of Star Trek fame broke down in tears after seeing planet Earth from space in a 10-minute flight. Plane travel may not lead to the profound drama of a space flight, but it can strike a chord when you view the incredible natural beauty of the planet, cloud formations, snow-covered mountains, lakes, rivers, and the glow of our towns and cities, from above.
Mankind has been gazing to the skies with wonder since time began.
Myths about flying palaces or chariots are found in the earliest Sanskrit texts. Stories about magic carpets, flying chariots, and other ways to “lift off” are found in most cultures. China and Japan used human-carrying kites, if the legends are to be believed.
Leonardo da Vinci was obsessed with the concept of flight, designing several types of flying machines, none of which, if built, would have worked.
Gliders, hot air balloons, blimps… the desire to “lift off” and fly is a never-ending human endeavor. Dirigible balloons, the Zeppelin, and other blimp-like airships were the first controllable flight machines.
When the physics of flight were discovered by Sir George Cayley back in 1799, his ideas led to the concept of lift being created by the shape of the aircraft’s wing. This is still the basis of all air plane flights.
The Wright brothers made the first controlled air flight, a historical event, leading to developments that are still the basics of modern air flight.
Once only a dream, or something that happened in movies and TV shows, space travel is offered by private companies creating rocket stages that can be reused, with the first stage of the rocket returning to earth and landing with precision on a ship at sea – an almost unbelievable advancement.
Airplane manufacturers are constantly at work designing new planes for commercial and military flights. New designs are in the offing, with a supersonic jet that flies at about twice the speed of the fastest jetliners, allowing travelers to travel between New York and London in about 3.5 hours rather than 7, which may soon be available to daring travelers.
The View from Above
A view of earth from the sky can be breathtaking. While air travel is now an everyday event, it is always thrilling to feel the acceleration, the lift as the aircraft takes to the air, and watch the city disappear below. The vast expanse of blue ocean far beneath, or passing through dazzling cloud formations illuminated with colors that have no name always delights.
The patchwork of farms, vast deserts, and the incredible quantity of empty space is surprising. I always feel a lift to my senses, and an appreciation for the natural beauty of the planet and the endless creativity of humankind.
Who knows what the future will bring?, But it is bound to be an exciting journey. A person born 100 years ago (and there are some still living today) have seen the development of radio, the automobile, television, space flight, cell phones, and the internet – and that barely covers the changes they’ve seen.
There is no doubt that technology will bring humanity new choices, new adventures, and new ways to travel. I, for one, am up for it!