Friday Photo: the mighty Mississippi

It's hard to take a bad photo from an open cockpit biplane. But add in the beauty of America's biggest river and the setting sun and you have a magical scene. Gareth Williams captured the moment in this week's Friday Photo, as he flew a 1942 Stearman just south of Memphis.

Friday Photo: El Paso sunrise

They say the early bird gets the worm, but if you're a pilot you get a whole lot more. This week's Friday photo, from pilot Ray Baca, shows the sun peeking over the horizon in El Paso, Texas. The gorgeous purple and orange colors painting the clouds will be familiar to any pilot who has taken in the view before.

Friday Photo: Mount Rushmore from a Bonanza

Mt. Rushmore is one of the most famous landmarks in all of America, but it arguably looks better from the air. ATC is usually accommodating of a detour, too. This week's photo captures the four faces, from the cockpit of a Bonanza on the way to Oshkosh.

Friday Photo: marine layer over San Francisco

Private pilot John Belnap was flying to Salinas, California for some weekend work when he snapped this amazing photo. A familiar sight for California pilots, it shows the marine layer rolling in around San Francisco. The low sun, reflected off the high wing of the Cessna, illuminates a beautiful scene.

Friday Photo: Mt. Cook in New Zealand

Mt. Cook is one of the most beautiful places on earth and a must-fly place for every pilot. What an adventure flying through the valleys of this mesmerizing scenery of glades, glaciers, fjords, off shore islands and mountains. Combine beautiful scenery and wonderfully warm, friendly, people and you have my most memorable flight experience in 39 years.

Friday Photo: Hudson River SFRA

It's still one of the best flights a pilot can make: flying up the Hudson River past New York City at low altitude. Pilot John Phillips did it recently with some flying club friends in a Cessna 172, and he shares a spectacular picture of the Freedom Tower in Manhattan. It's this week's Friday Photo.

Friday Photo: a trip over the Alps

This week's Friday Photo comes from French pilot Georges Casanova, who took this beautiful shot while crossing the Alps in a Pipistrel motor glider. The tallest peak in the Alps, Mont Blanc, towers over the building clouds in the valley. A memorable sight for made so much more impressive when seen from the cockpit of a small airplane.

Friday Photo: an airport wakes up

After a near-record setting blizzard the weekend before, the Trenton airport was covered in two feet of snow. After digging out, pilot Greg John headed out for an early morning training flight. The sun rose in the east, painting the high overcast in beautiful shades of orange, yellow and purple. Another beautiful Friday Photo.

Friday Photo: Owens Valley solo flight

Tyler Core snapped this beautiful picture on a solo flight to practice maneuvers. The view is of the imposing Mt. Tom, rising nearly 10,000 ft. over the Owens Valley in the foreground. As Tyler says, "the Owens Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys to live in and the outstanding views coupled with the minimal air traffic around KBIH makes this a unique place to learn."

Friday Photo: sunshine after the cold front

John Gill spent a solid day flying in IMC and shooting approaches for a recent Angel Flight. Closer to home, has was rewarded with this view of the late afternoon sun shining through gaps in the clouds, illuminating other cloud layers below. As he says, it was "God's paintbrush giving a ray of hope after a hard day."

Friday Photo: how many souls on board?

They don't get much better than this Friday Photo. Pilot Chuck Tippett took his first selfie on the way to the beach with his two grandsons and the family dog. A 45-minute flight certainly beats a two hour drive, and the memories will last a lifetime. Rarely has the cockpit of a J-3 Cub looked better.

Friday Photo: sunset on a first flight lesson

Sunsets are always better from the cockpit, and a thin overcast makes them a little more interesting. Daniel McPartland got to see one of these, but it was even more special because he was on his first flight lesson. Taking in the scenery while sitting in the left seat for the first time is this week's Friday Photo.

Friday Photo: San Francisco moonrise

San Francisco Bay is a unique place to fly, and Paul De Zan captures a lot of the activity in this week's Friday Photo. From the dark water to the shining city lights to the airliners landing at SFO, it's all visible from the cockpit of a Cessna 172. Off in the distance, a warm moon rises from the horizon.

Friday Photo: blue Bahamas water

The first time I flew to the Bahamas was in the spring of 1974 in a 1952 Piper TriPacer. On this flight, we're in our Aerostar following the magenta line - precisely knowing our position, ground speed, ETA, etc. The technology may have changed, but the beauty of the islands has not.

Friday Photo: Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

Mt. Bachelor, a popular ski resort in Oregon, makes for a beautiful subject in this week's Friday Photo. Student pilot John Belnap snapped this photo of the snow-covered peak from a Cessna 172 as he flew to Bend with friend and fellow pilot Jonathan Jenson.

Friday Photo: Sierra Nevada mountains at sunrise

The early bird gets the worm, but he also gets the beautiful sunrise. Pilot John Krikorian shares this week's Friday Photo, with the sun peeking out from behind a few clouds over the Sierra Nevada mountains. He was on a trip in a Cessna 182 to Mexico to support the Flying Doctors of Mercy.

Friday Photo: why we love flying

Take a beautiful airplane and a beautiful vista and you get a special photo. This week's cockpit photo comes from Greg Pepper, who snapped this one on the way home from Dallas in his Cirrus. As he says, it's a great reminder of why pilots love what they do.

Friday Photo: small New Jersey airport

It was one of those beautiful afternoons in December when the sky was so clear, crisp and my workday was cut short by my longing to fly. Being a new pilot, every time I fire up the plane I get goosebumps. The excitement of not knowing what to expect keeps me going further, like a child sneaking out of his yard for a look around. This afternoon I decided to go north, not really having an absolute destination but just enjoying the view of the New Jersey landscape.

Friday Photo: Ercoupe sunset

After 35 years as a professional pilot (Boeing 747s on down), I now fly a Light Sport-qualified Ercoupe 415-C. It is a fantastic airplane, and “low and slow” is great after so many years of high and fast. The view from, the speed of, and the pleasure of flying this “no-purpose-but-to-enjoy-it” airplane are all just what I was looking for at this end of my career.

Friday Photo: Stearman over the Salton Sea

There's nothing like the yellow fabric of a Stearman to evoke the golden age of aviation. This week's beautiful Friday Photo shows that view, with the unique Salton Sea in California just beyond the wingtip.