Sun Dog

Position: 70 miles southeast of PANC (aviation shorthand for Anchorage; P= Pacific)

Altitude: 25,000 feet and climbing at 2,000 feet per minute

Groundspeed: 506 mph (440 knots)

Destination: Lost Wages, and then on to LAX for the overnight

The sun is hanging low in the southern sky as we blast out of Anchorage for the lower 48. (Earlier, at noon, I was walking around town and noticed very long shadows; it is that time of year up here.) The co-pilot spotted a sun dog, so I gave him my camera for a quick photo. The result was surprisingly good. A sun dog is refracted sunlight through ice crystals aloft which creates little bright spots close to the sun's orb. Sometimes they show a bit of halo, which this one clearly does.

On the left side of the aircraft, no clouds over the land mass, but beautiful orange light on the snow. I love this job!

Two hours and 11,000 pounds of fuel later, we are under a canopy of stars. To our left, the undercast is illuminated by the lights of Seattle, a pale smudge of yellow penetrating the cloud layer. The crosswind is tremendous, as in 151 mph (132 knots) from the west. Fi-Fi's navigation computers are commanding the number one auto-pilot to fly a heading 18 degrees right of the course line to maintain the correct track across the surface. Yikes!

Imagine trying to stand in a 151 mph wind...