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Ask the Pilot

pilotQ: How would you describe the view from the flight deck compared to the little ovals most of us are used to? Do you have a “most memorable sight” from up front?

A: The view from the flight deck is unlike any other on the airplane. The cockpit forward and side windows provide good visibility of about 240 degrees. The panoramic view from 35,000 feet has allowed me to witness some of the most spectacular vistas I’ve ever seen: deep-red sunsets, powerful thunderstorms, meteors, snow-capped mountains, teal-blue oceans, city silhouettes and St. Elmo’s fire, to name a few. Far and away the most breathtaking sight happened during a late-evening flight into Fairbanks, Alaska. The night sky was lit by the aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, with vivid green and yellowish blue dancing ribbons of light that were actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s atmosphere. I haven’t seen anything like it since, although I keep looking….

Captain Bebe O’Neil is United’s Houston chief pilot.

You can write to United’s chief pilots by addressing askthepilot@united.com

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