LOOK OUT BELOW
10 Scenic Airport Landings
Everyone knows views are best from above. That's why we asked pilots and flight attendants who've racked up millions of sky miles to locate the world's most beautiful approaches. You'll definitely want a window seat on these flights.
St. George's Parish, Bermuda (see photo 1 of 2)
Flight attendant Heather Zorzini recently retired after 31 years and about 20 million miles aboard Air Canada. Looking back, she says her all-time favorite place to land was Bermuda's L.F. Wade International Airport—for the sheer charm of the isolated, unexpected oasis in the Atlantic Ocean. "The island is just as lovely from the air as it is on the ground," says Zorzini. Deep-green seas fade to pale turquoise as they lap at pink beaches, and pastel houses with white limestone roofs come into focus on the surrounding lush hillsides. "It all creates an achingly picturesque vista," she adds.
Aspen (see a photo)
Most pilots begin perspiring at the thought of landing in snowy Aspen, whose airport requires a rapid, challenging descent at high altitude. But not much fazes David Angotti, who pilots a Cessna Citation X—a seven-person private jet and the fastest civilian aircraft with a max speed of Mach .92. (A typical 747 travels at Mach .85; the Citation X can shave an hour off a transcontinental flight.) "The first time you land in Aspen, it's difficult to believe there's an airport nestled between some of the tallest mountain peaks on the continent," recalls Angotti. "Each time I step off the aircraft and gaze at the towering peaks surrounding the runway at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, I marvel that this airport is welcome in nature's playground."
New York City (see photo 1 of 2)
Sue Cragg, a Detroit-based flight attendant for Delta Air Lines, remembers her first descent into New York's LaGuardia Airport. "Around the time when I finished flight attendant training, the FAA said it would soon enforce the rule that no one was allowed in the flight deck below 10,000 feet," Cragg recalls. "But on approach into LaGuardia, the captain called to the back, 'Send the new kid up.' When I entered the flight deck, the sun was setting and the colors of burnt orange and bright red burst in the spring sky. He flew low down the Hudson River past the magnificent cityscape, and the buildings sparkled and reflected the colors as we landed." It still gives her goose bumps after 30 years in the skies.
Oranjestad, Aruba (see photo 1 of 2)
As the assistant chief pilot of United Airlines' Northeast region, James T. Simons Jr. has circled the gorgeous blues and greens of the Caribbean for 21 years, but he can pick his favorite approach in an instant. "After flying over many other islands en route, Aruba stands out like a beacon among the dark-blue Caribbean waters," says Simons. "Descending over the bay toward Aruba's single runway, it's easy to see what sets the island apart: The dry, seemingly desertlike conditions form a visually stunning contrast where the warm waters meet the land." Planes hover low just above the sparkling sea, hugging the coastline as they zero in for their landing at Aruba International Airport, whose runway begins at the water's edge.
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