Having the opportunity to fly anywhere you wish in a private plane – whether as a pilot or passenger – is an experience not everyone will have an opportunity to savor. The exhilaration is addictive: and the feeling of becoming untethered from the world’s demands and concerns adds a sense of fantasy and surrender to one’s psyche. The only thing one could add to all this bliss that would enhance the euphoria would be to fly over one or more of the most spectacular locations in America.
Here, we’ll touch on a few of the most breath-taking spots which, when seen from your private aircraft, become etched in one’s memory for a lifetime.
Niagara Falls – Northeast US
Niagara Falls is on the border between New York and Ontario, Canada. When seen from above, the majesty of the powerful, cascading waters and surrounding terrain is unlike anything you could view from ground-level; and even that is spectacular! Visitors, below, will look like they are part of an ant-colony; and the almost-90-degree drop over cliffs gives new meaning to the word ‘surreal’.
‘Class 6’ rapids are visible; and the numerical ranking of ‘6’ indicates a very high-level of skill required to navigate the waters. A ‘5’ is deemed ‘Expert’ and a ‘6’ is considered ‘Extreme’, where any rescue attempts would be unlikely. These impressive rapids can be seen with 20 to 30-foot waves but the rapids are not caused by water traveling over rocks – Niagara Falls is one of the few places in the world where rapids are caused, solely, by a titanic amount of water falling steeply through a narrow gorge. Even the most-experienced kayakers are very hesitant to take on these beckoning, yet treacherous, waters.
From the air, it’s impossible to overlook how Horseshoe Falls – also, called the Canadian Falls – emits an immense cloud of mist; and this is how the Falls got their Native American name, ‘Niagara’, which means ‘thundering water’. And for those who don’t have access to a private plane, air-tours offer the public never-to-be-forgotten trips over Niagara Falls and the surrounding area.
The Great Smokey Mountains – Southeast US
Situated as a mountain range rising above the Tennessee/North Carolina border, the Great Smokey Mountains may seem like an unlikely candidate for one of most spectacular aerial views in America, but the key is to catch this region at just the right time. The name ‘Smokey’ originates from the natural fog that typically hangs over the range, looking like large smoke plumes from the distance. Interestingly, the fog is caused by the vegetation that emits organic compounds that easily form vapors at normal temperatures. When the fog rolls in and embraces the mountains like a wooly blanket, one can see the tree tops breaking through the white veil which makes for an unimaginably beautiful sight.
While in the air, you would want to catch a glimpse of the Little Tennessee River and elongated ridges known as the ‘Foothills’ as well as the largest stream in the area known as Abrams Creek. From above, you’ll be able to see how Abrams Creek rises in Cades Cove and empties into Chilhowee Lake. And then there is Clingmans Dome which is the highest point in the Smokies which rises to an elevation of over 6,600 feet – absolutely stunning!
Wainiha Bay – Hawaii
Wainiha Bay is situated on the north shore of Kaua`i, Hawaii. If, ever, there was a place on Earth that paralleled Heaven, Wainiha Bay would be it! From the air you will take in jagged mountains and the most lush-green foliage imaginable, contrasted with sandy shorelines and ocean water so blue, you’ll wonder if the water isn’t made of see-through sapphire.
Surfers will be visible from your plane since one of the most popular islands for professional and amateur surfing is Kauai Island. You will, also, be able to view the Lumaha`i River which enters the sea, just to the east of Lumahai Beach. If you ever get an opportunity to visit Wainiha Bay at ground-level, you will soon discover why it ranks as one of the most relaxing spots in the entire world!
B-52 Bone-yard – Southwest US
Though not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, the B-52 Bone Yard in Tuscon, Arizona is a must-see from the air! This incredible site would bring tears to any still-living WWII veterans who may have flown bombing missions over Europe during the 1940’s.
As one looks down upon the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base storage area for these once-heroic aircraft, one will take in the absolute vastness that bombers and other aircraft fill, on the desert floor. Aside from traditional bombers, one will see rows and rows of other silent aircraft that include enormous cargo lifters, Hercules freighters, F/A-18 jets, and F-14 Tomcat fighters that made a household name for themselves via the movie, Top Gun. Typical inventory of aircraft comprises more than 4,400 planes covering 2,600 acres – the long rows of faded tails seem to stretch to the horizon.
The Tuscon bone-yard is the largest aircraft bone-yard on the planet; and most of the older relics are kept either for storage or have had their parts removed for reuse or resale. All guns, ejection seat charges, classified hardware and other significant equipment have been removed; and each aircraft receives a thorough washing, upon arrival. Some of the planes that are towed here are maintained until they can be recalled to active service; and are ‘re-preserved’ every four years.
The desert landscape is an ideal location for the old bombers and other aerial ‘residents’ since the dry conditions reduce corrosion. With the area’s low humidity, meager rainfall, hard alkaline soil, and high altitude, the aircraft are naturally preserved. Though common sense tells you these planes are real, seeing them from above may cause your imagination to trick you into believing these are just toy planes that have been neatly lined up for the next play session by a child.