Friday Photo: San Francisco Christmas flight

How do you celebrate Christmas Day? For Dave Kramer, there's no better way than to go flying. He took this photo from the cockpit of a Citabria, as he cruised over San Francisco Bay on Christmas Day, enjoying the beauty and peacefulness that pilots love so much.

Friday Photo: a pink King Air wing

The sun is a talented artist, especially at dawn and dusk. This week's Friday Photo shows how the canvas is often an airplane, not just the surrounding clouds or earth below. Jeff Greer snapped this photo of the King Air he was flying as the sun painted it a beautiful shade of pinkish orange. Another memorable view that's only available in the air.

Friday Photo: Catalina pokes above the fog

Flying offers some great views - even if you're not the one flying. In this week's Friday Photo, Carlos Gonzalez captures an amazing view of scenic Catalina Island, just off the coast of Southern California. As the marine layer covers the Pacific Ocean, the hilly island sticks up out of the mist, like an aircraft carrier in the clouds.

Friday Photo: Sunset over Puget Sound

High wing airplanes make for great picture frames. In this Friday Photo, the sun sets over the Olympic Mountains as Steve Phoenix cruises along in his Piper Pacer. The sun is framed between the struts, while the light bounces off the water of Puget Sound below. Peaceful, beautiful, and exactly what makes flying so rewarding.

Friday Photo: overhead Amsterdam airport

Passing through the CTR of Schiphol, one of the busiest airports in Europe, is a granted privilege for private pilots who are familiair with the CTR of EHAM. Preparation is key - knowing which runways are in use, wind direction, etc. - so that controllers can give direct commands which are followed promptly.

Friday Photo: Ayers Rock, Australia

Ayers Rock is a famous sandstone monolith in the remote Northern Territory of Australia. It's a popular tourist destination, but it's difficult to reach by car. In an airplane, however, it is a scenic and unforgettable flight, as Bob Main shows in this week's Friday Photo. He calls it, "the trip of a lifetime."

Friday Photo: Manhattan over the nose

New York has one of the most famous skylines in the world, and there's no better way to see it than from the cockpit of an airplane. Jody Kochansky was lucky enough to get a view of Manhattan from his Cirrus SR-20 on a perfectly clear day, and he shares it in this week's Friday Photo.

Friday Photo: Wichita sunset

It was a silky-smooth IFR flight from KIXD to 1K1 for Dianne White. She was treated to this beautiful sunset, a view those on the ground didn’t have the benefit of enjoying that winter evening. As she says, "We pilots get to enjoy so many breathtaking sights those on terra firma never get to see."

Friday Photo: Capitol emerges from the fog

Flying as a helicopter air ambulance pilot in Washington, DC, can be a stressful job. But as this week's Friday Photo shows, it can also offer some unique views. While most pilots will never get this close to the US Capitol, pilot John Guazzo got to see it covered in fog from 900 feet.

Friday Photo: rough country

The southwest United States is a wonderful place for flying, says Barrie Strachan. The weather is often clear and the scenery is often striking, as this week's Friday Photo shows. This picture, taken from Barrie's SingSport LSA, shows Coyote Gulch in southern Utah. It's makes for a great view, but it's "a hell of a place for an engine out."

Friday Photo: beach campfire by a seaplane

With seaplanes, it's not just about the journey - sometimes the destination is pretty good too. This Friday Photo from Scott Magie will have you wishing you could jump into the picture. A campfire on the beach in front of a Beaver. What's not to like?

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.