JFK to SEA is one of the longest domestic routes that we fly. Do it in the fall and winter when the upper level winds are whistling from the west and the flight is even longer. Get trapped in JFK on a day when they are only departing from one runway because the winds are so strong…a painful 7 hours from push out to wheels chocked in Seattle.
It took us 1.08 from push back to takeoff as we were in a line of about 30 aircraft all waiting to depart from one runway (31L), while JFK also had to land arriving aircraft on the same runway. I am not a patient man. This was not fun, and of course a bunch of our passengers missed their connections in Seattle [my apologies, dear passengers, events were beyond my control].
On the upside the first officer and I got to watch the sun set for about 4 of the 7 hours. Flying east to west we kept chasing the setting sun and the light lingered and lingered and lingered. The ride was mostly smooth also, so while painful, it was a beautiful 7 hours, well 5.45 hours after we actually, you know, took off from JFK.
Being humans it is easy for us to let the extraordinary [a four hour sunset] become the ordinary when we witness it again and again and again. Amazing as it seems, we have to remind ourselves to be grateful for nights like these, otherwise we will get distracted from the magnificence that surrounds us at every turn in nature [fall colors!] and become entrapped in a dreary world of our own making.
This reminds me of one of Clyde Kilby’s resolutions: “I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.”