Daily Archives: October 7, 2007

Landscape: Boulder By Air

The ScoutOn December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. I wonder if they even imagined what our world would be like today. Just over 100 year after the Wright brothers’ historic flight, gazillions of airline companies are carting travelers all over the world. Warplanes are dropping bombs. We’re flying for fun and landing planes in our backyards.

After a recent excursion into the Boulder skies, I understand more the impulse that humans have to see their world from such a perspective. I love to travel, but I had never flown around for the heck of it. My friend Andy flies a 180-hp Bellanca Scout, a little yellow thing that’s much lighter than my beat-up Toyota Corolla. He needed to winterize it before leaving the country for six months, so he asked me if I wanted to warm-up the engine—by flying around for a bit—so that he could drain the oil. Sure! Who could resist such a venture?

I’ve been in Boulder now for about seven weeks, so I’m just learning my way around, but seeing it from above helped me understand the layout of the place. I felt super-happy to see from the air that Boulder is not big at all, and nice green trees still speckle the urban space. Boulder’s my kinda place. I was pretty sure of it when I arrived, but the flight confirmed it.

My Kinda Town

We were cruising between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, doing about 126 miles/hour. We buzzed close to the flatirons on our way to Eldorado Canyon. The whole way, Andy was pointing out the area’s classic climbs. I’ve since returned to climb the first flatiron, the distinctive rock pyramid on the far right of this photo:

Boulder’s Flatirons

On the way back to the hangar (the one I’ve been sleeping in intermittently), we landed in a field behind Andy’s friend’s house. This guy ended up having a hangar attached to his house, full of antique planes. The oldest were from the 1930s, and one of them was an old WWII training plane from the 40s.

Drop In Sometime

Flying, I think, adds a whole new dimension to the phrase “drop in sometime.”