The section of Columbia I live in, known as Hickory Ridge, is in the path of planes taking off from and landing at Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) airport. When I sit on my deck, I hear them, loud as thunder, flying over me.
For reasons I don’t understand, I see (and hear) many more outgoing aircraft than incoming ones. The planes leaving the area fly very high from east to west—I have to strain to see them. Sometimes clouds obscure them, but the sound—a mix of powerful droning in the middle range of my hearing to a deep roar—is always deafening.
All the aircraft I see are very large, jetliners that carry well over a hundred passengers. Sometimes, they’re shining silver, flashing in the sunlight. Sometimes they look gray and largely colorless. I see blue and white, too, but most often planes I see have much of their body orange. I assume these planes are Southwest Airlines because that airline features orange-painted craft.
Incoming flights come south towards me, then turn east toward BWI directly over my house. They are much lower than the outgoing flights. Sometimes they look as though they are barely clearing the treetops, but I know that is an illusion. The oddity is that flights headed for BWI are much quieter than those leaving. I conclude that’s because they require much less power to descend and land. The outgoing planes are pushing their engines to make them ascend.
My favorite time to watch the flights is at the end of the day when the sun is sinking in the west. I watch the outgoing planes lit from the west by the low-lying sun. They seem to be reaching for the light as they fly towards it.
At that time of day, the aircraft look as though they are above the level of the sun, looking down at it. All the trees on the ground close to me seem to be turning their faces at the very tops for one last look before the sun disappears.