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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Beauty of the Journey

Atlanta to Amsterdam... the hour was late, the sky was dark, and we crossed the Atlantic scheduled to meet the morning sun over the shore of Europe. Midnight somewhere in the world, a delicious cup of Delta coffee in hand, and we gazed out the window.

To the north we saw a phenomenal sight that my camera had a difficult time capturing.

Noctilucent Clouds

This picture doesn't do justice to the beauty of these delicate clouds. Noctilucent clouds occur between 60 and 70 degrees latitude north or south, far above the troposphere. In summer they exist at about 82 km high, high enough for sunlight to illuminate them during the night. They move fast, and can appear and disappear in less than an hour. This hour, they appeared for our delight.

The following day, the sun followed our return over the Atlantic as we proceeded to the U.S. Today we flew far north over Iceland and the tip of Greenland. Iceland may have been hidden beneath the clouds, but Greenland painted a beautiful picture.


A perfect landing by my captain, a frisk through security, and I hitchhiked, and captured the only open seat to Seattle. Yes, in the cockpit.

Taxiing to 22L, we followed my old plane to the runway... oh I miss the 744 and the pilots who flew her. She is a beautiful plane! With great memories.

The journey continued. Leaving Detroit and 90 degree temperatures behind, we dodged clouds as the afternoon buildups began, and pressed on to Seattle.

Mt. Rainier

A beautiful day in Seattle, a perfect landing by Ellen, and I was home within 15 minutes after walking off the plane.

Ellen, Thank You for the ride home!

A bubble bath, some light reading, and then I slept for 13 hours!
2 days home and the next adventure begins...

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene


  1. What a beautiful journey. I really enjoyed it! Thank you so much for sharing it -- I can appreciate it so much due to my love of flying, all things aviation, and living in Seattle for 7 years. I look forward to more!
    Dave Elzi -- @SQfan1

  2. Thank you Dave! I'm off to Africa, and Rome and will have more great pictures soon. I appreciate your comments!

  3. Outstanding... jealous. I hope we get to meet on a flight somewhere, and my seat gets taken, and you authorize me to ride in the jump seat with you :P -- I'm FAA-certified, so that should count for something eh! Take care. Blue Side Up!

  4. Hi Chats, I too hope we can meet one day. And if they let me authorize it I will be hosting 4 stripes...and YOU have the jump seat! Before that, I will use my best CRM skills to convince my capatin to authorize it. More pictures to come! Definitely blue side up! Sunny side too. :)

  5. These are amazing! I can tell how much they inspired you by how beautiful your writing was in this post! Thanks for sharing them.

  6. What a treat to take this journey vicariously through your photos and words -- thanks! Those noctilucent clouds are incredible. If that picture doesn't do them justice I would so love to see some for real. And how fun to have another woman pilot bring you home to Seattle.

  7. Gorgeous photos, Karlene. And you are a great photographer and writer, as well as pilot! Thanks for sharing them with the world.

  8. Heather and Jule, Thank you both so much for the nice comments. Your words mean alot! Thank you!!!

  9. Hi Linda, I found your comment in my spam folder! What is my computer thinking? Yes...the moments enroute are hard to compare. Inspiring! And she is a great lady!

  10. WOW! Amazing pictures. I so want to experience that imagery. I've never seen Noctilucent Clouds. The only picture that looked familiar is Mt. Rainier. I really need to get out more.

  11. Thank you Supovadea! One day you will experience this...and MORE! You do need to get out there more! And... you and your daughter have a place to stay!


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