I just love flying over mountain ranges and have flown over the Sierra Nevada range in California a countless number of times. Also the Colorado Rockies. One of my most memorable trips was flying from Anchorage on Western Airlines (remember the parrot sitting on the wing? and “The only way to fly!”) down the Alaska and Canada coast to Seattle in 1977. We were mesmerized by the sight of Mt St Elias jutting out of Icy Bay and over the vast Malaspina glacier and later we flew directly over Sitka and Mt Edgecumbe which looks like a minature Mt Fuji. Beautiful. More recently, in 2009 we flew Aer Lingus from Dublin to Milan and went right over the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. Two weeks ago we took a United plane back from a weekend in Colorado and flew directly over Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Flying over mountains is simply exhilarating.
Well, I wasn’t to be disappointed with our South Island flight. On Tuesday, April 26, 2011 we said goodbye to New Zealand’s North Island where we had just spent a wonderful week and boarded an Air New Zealand plane for Queenstown way down in the southern part of the South Island.
We have our Sierras; Kiwis have their Southern Alps. We were in a small plane that reminded me of those PSA prop jets that flew from SF to LA back in the 60s and 70s. And our pilot liked to fly just barely over the mountain peaks — a little unnerving to some passengers but sensational to goofballs like me. The highlight of the trip was passing over Mt Cook, the crown jewel of the Southern Alps. Everyone on the left side of the plane had terrific views. And then the pilot turned around and came back again, this time giving those on the right side of the plane a chance to see the magnificent mountain. What a thrill!
There was only one problem with this flight. My camera was stowed away and so I took no pictures of our air adventure that day and we have no visual evidence of any sensational views. You’ll just have to take my word for it. But I’ll be better prepared the next time. I promise.