Learning to Love to Fly. A Photo Narrative by Tim Sullivan


I travel a lot for work and a fair amount for pleasure as well. I have flown well over a million miles over the years and have experienced a real love and hate relationship with flying along the way. When I was a younger it was nothing but love. I would put on my headphones (Sony Walkman 😉 and try to sync the perfect song to reach crescendo right as we hit 150 miles per hour and lifted from the ground. What a thrill.


As I got older and started traveling more for work I developed an unfortunate fear of flying along the way. I am not sure why this happened, maybe because I had a family and realized there was more to lose. But I remember the footage of the Concord crash in France having a big impact on me. Actually seeing the horror of it really got inside my head.


Back then a few stiff drinks and a couple of pills was all that was required to calm the nerves. But I don’t do that anymore, which brings us to the photographs. Even in my fear of flying I never lost my wonder and awe of it. But takeoff became the time that was particularly tense for me. I found that if I could occupy myself with some activity (music, reading, a conversation) it would distract me and take my mind off the prospect of a fiery crash. This worked to a point. But if the plane suddenly swerved or the engine made a noise that caught my attention, I would snap back into fear and the effect would be more acute than if I had just white knuckled it.


So I came upon the idea of making the actual takeoff process the focus. To document it in photos or time-lapse and focus all of my attention on getting the best shots I could as we left the ground. This was even more challenging before the FAA started letting you keep your phone out during takeoff and landing (just three years ago).


I started this process five years ago and it has changed everything for me. Not only can I handle takeoff with out batting an eyelash, it has also rekindled the love of flying I felt in my youth. The only stress now is making sure I get a window seat!


Seven miles above the earth. As close to space as 99.9% of the humans on this planet will ever come (at least in my lifetime). Sitting in a leather chair, traveling at 550 miles per hour, looking down at the unbelievable beauty of the only home we have in this universe as it slowly glides past. Wow! It still amazes me after all these years.


I have included some of my favorite in-flight captures and you can see more of my work on my Instagram rattlebox333.



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