July 4th from the Air

Mich, Robbie, one of our friend’s kids, and I spent part of this past July 4th enjoying the view of the dozens of fireworks displays from the vantage point of a rental airplane.

The weather up North (Pennsylvania and the Northeastern states) was stormy and there were some storm systems to our West but none of these were going to affect us in the time frame I wanted to be in the air. However there was a ceiling at 11,000 feet and scattered clouds in the area at about 4,000 and 6,000 feet. There were also thunderstorms and light rain showers in the area, but according to the weather reports, none that seemed near us.

We took off from Briscoe field shortly after some of the displays began and travelled North toward lake Lanier. The cloud cover kept us pretty low (at about 3,000 feet) but that was ample to keep us safe.

To our left as we departed runway 25 was a grand display that was probably Lawrenceville’s official fireworks show.

There were dozens and dozens (perhaps even hundreds) of little residential fireworks displays to be seen scattered across the myriad neighborhoods that we flew over.

I did not see the grand display of fireworks over Lake Lanier but I did notice that the cloud cover seemed to be increasing more rapidly than expected over the lake so I decided to head South toward Atlanta’s displays instead. We could see several other major displays taking place as we headed downtown. While en route I started to notice some buffeting, which is unusual for night flying, and then we saw Mother Nature’s own fireworks display. Off in the distance there were some spectacular lightning strikes going on. So we knew that one of the warned-about thunderstorms was not only nearby, but approaching our area.

180 degrees and a landing later we got the first drops of rain while I was tying down the airplane.

I found out, after the fact, that the Phipp’s Plaza and Centennial park displays did not happen that night. I haven’t researched whether they did the shows early or cancelled them altogether.

But in the brief time we were up we *did* get to see far more than I ever get to see on the ground watching a single show. And I cannot tell you how amazing it is to see all the little shows going on as far as you can see in every direction. Picture the landscape of the movie “Blade Runner” (one of my all time favorite movies).

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