Friday Photo: putting the plane away

Great aviation pictures don't always happen in the air. This week's Friday Photo shares the simple pleasure of a family flight, and the joy of introducing young people to flying. Reuben Keim captured this memorable shot of his son Luke and his two cousins as they pushed the airplane back in the hangar after a flight. Airplanes and family - a perfect combination.

Friday Photo: Sydney Harbour from an Archer

Sydney, Australia, has one of the world's most photogenic harbors, from the famous opera house to the historic bridge. The view is even better from the air, as David Grabham shows in this week's Friday Photo. He gave a couple of friends the scenic tour in his Piper Archer and snapped this beautiful photo.

Friday Photo: Smoky Mountain Rainbow

Commuting by airplane isn't always as glamorous as it sounds, but this flight was a great reminder for McGregor Scott of how beautiful the view is from the cockpit. He snapped this photo of a rainbow just ahead of a rain shaft over Chatuge Lake in northern Georgia, while flying his Trinidad from Kentucky to Florida.

Friday Photo: Golden Gate Bridge

As a new pilot, I’ve been nervous about going through class B airspace. Today was a perfect VFR day, and I took the plunge. I took a trip up the California coast past Half Moon Bay, across San Francisco, and then straight down highway 101 past KSFO. The controllers were fast and furious, but the flight was beautiful and uneventful.

Friday Photo: Twin Bonanza sunset

Seeing a beautiful sunset is one of the reasons pilots learn to fly. For Chris White, though, this sunset was even more special than usual. Sure, the Twin Bonanza he was flying is a unique and interesting airplane. But he was most proud of the mission he was flying: to transport a WWII Medal of Honor recipient to the groundbreaking for a memorial.

Friday Photo: the floating city of Venice

Venice, Italy, is a legendary tourist destination. Millions flock to the island city and its picturesque canals for a scenic trip by gondola. But as Benoit Vollmer shows in this Friday Photo, the view from the air is pretty spectacular too. He took this photo from his Robin RD-400 during a trip from Paris to Albania.

Friday Photo: Cessna over the Alps

Here's a great example of how a general aviation airplane can unlock new perspectives. Elke Quodt was flying her Cessna 182 of Mt. Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, when she took this photo of the snowy peak. The skiers on the mountain think they have a great view, but the pilot's view is even better.

Friday Photo: Fresno sunset

Fathers, sons, and airplanes - it's a powerful combination. George White says, "While we spend time together often this was the first time in quite some time that we spent the entire day together like this. I don't think I will soon forgot watching him fly (only his 2nd or 3rd time in the plane) and thinking now he understands the joy and passion I have for flying."

Friday Photo: early morning fog

Helicopter pilots like Paul Pignataro often talk about "the golden hour." The idea is that if an emergency medical helicopter can get an injured person to the hospital in an hour or less, their chance of survival goes up dramatically. But there's another golden hour, as Paul's photo shows off this week, one that photographers seek out. It's the magical time after sunrise when the sky is utterly beautiful.

Friday Photo: Boston reflection

Low level flights over major cities can offer some beautiful views for pilots who are paying attention. In this week's Friday Photo, Al Muggia shares a beautiful view of the Charles River snaking through Boston, Massachusetts. Even better, the view is reflected in the smooth wing of his Cessna 210 Centurion.

Friday Photo: California sunset

Sunsets are a common sight from the cockpit of an airplane, but the California coast may provide some of the best available. Valerie Ashton and Richard Garnett were flying a Piper Seminole over Morro Bay when they took this photo. It's a beautiful combination of sunset, clouds and coastline.

Friday Photo: Lake Powell

Lake Powell, located on the Utah/Arizona border, is a popular vacation spot - and this week's photo shows why. The sprawling reservoir and rocky banks make for a stunning scene, and there's no better vantage point than an airplane. Kim Neibauer was taking his wife on her first cross country in his KR2S when she snapped this photo.

Friday Photo: land on the orange dot

Dick O'Reilly flew over 1500 miles in his 1942 Interstate Cadet to attend the world's greatest aviation celebration. He was celebrating the 75th anniversary of his airplane with over a dozen other owners, and this picture perfectly captures the magic of arriving at OSH by air. "Land on the orange dot; welcome to Oshkosh."

Friday Photo: Partial Panel ILS

This is the moment of truth for instrument pilots - seeing the runway lights as you hit minimums on an approach. For instrument student Sandro Salgueiro, it was especially rewarding to see the lights on the ILS to runway 11 at Bedford, Massachusetts. He was finishing up his last lesson before his instrument checkride, and you'll notice the gyros are covered.

Friday Photo: Statue of Liberty tour

This photo is a great way to get in the spirit for the upcoming July 4 holiday. The Statue of Liberty stands proudly in New York Harbor, just off the sleek wing of Dominick Amorosso's Diamond DA-40. It's also a great reminder that this flight can be made without any special approval or training, just a pilot certificate and some pre-flight planning.

Friday Photo: Blue Ridge Mountain sunrise

This week's Friday Photo pretty well sums up why you became a pilot. Fitzwilliam King snapped this amazing photo from the cockpit of his PA-11 Cub, just as the sun peeked over the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Greenville, South Carolina. The rolling hills, the lingering valley fog, the warm colors of the sun, and the yellow fabric of the airplane - it's recreational aviation at its very finest.

Friday Photo: downwind for Sedona Airport

Sedona is one of the more unusual airports in the US. With a field elevation of nearly 5,000 feet, the runway sits on top of a mesa, some 500 feet above the surrounding terrain. It's a wonderful fly-in destination, but the conditions can be turbulent. This photo from Mike Landis shows the rolling terrain on short final.

Friday Photo: sunset over Grand Lake, Oklahoma

David and Judy Smart were up for a sunset flight in their Cessna 172 when everything came together. The sun dipped in between clouds on the horizon, throwing a soft shadow over Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, in Northeast Oklahoma. David says it's "perhaps the most beautiful sunset we have ever witnessed together." Hard to argue with that.

Friday Photo: Alaska solo cross-country

Cross-countries are a little different in Alaska, as Herbert Mann proves in this photo. He flew across the Turnagain Arm, then used the Anchorage East Side Corridor to fly between Anchorage and the Chugiak Mountains on the east all the way to Palmer. He then departed Palmer behind a DC-3 and landed on the dirt strip at Willow before coming home to Soldotna. He says, "Dreams do come true if we work hard enough."

Friday Photo: grass strip fun

Darin Moody and Paul Leadabrand were doing some backcountry flight training in a Kitfox when this photo was taken. As they traded seats on the grass runway at Big Creek airstrip, Paul writes, "Blue jeans, blue sky, and training with your wing man - what could make a better weekend outing?" Not much, we would say.