A Pair of Sunsets in One Night from the Cockpit

Some of the most unique sights in life can only experienced from the two seats in
the very front of a high flying aircraft. One of those experiences is shared by
Todd Raymond, a First Officer for SkyWest Airlines based in Denver, Colorado.


Todd is a graduate of ATP’s Airline
Career Pilot Program
, and then went on to instruct at ATP until he went to
work for the airlines. Todd is also a Career Coach and mentors aspiring
professional pilots at BeAnAirlinePilot.com.

“Taking off from Chicago one evening headed for Colorado Springs, I
noticed another beautiful sunset appearing in the Western sky. The Sun
was just resting on the horizon. It was the kind
of sunset where the sun looked like a huge ball just sitting on a
tabletop. After we began flying west I noticed that the
sunset had disappeared, but not beyond the horizon. It actually
appeared to be coming up in the West. “Amazing” I thought to
myself. “There are not many jobs in this world would allow you to watch the sun
come up in the West….”

“As we climbed to 37000 feet, our vantage point created a much different view
and perspective on the sun. We were now viewing the sun
at a much higher altitude which made the sun appear to have come up due to
the angle and altitude from where we were in relationship to the sun and
earth. While flying west, we were chasing the sun as it eventually began
to rest on top of the horizon once again. I did some quick calculations;
The Earth rotates at roughly 1100 miles per hour. We were flying at
roughly 500 miles per hour. In a nutshell, we were watching the
sun set in half speed.”

“I had been 45 minutes since our departure from Chicago when we watched the
sun rest on the horizon, and once again we were watching the Sun appear
to set at half speed as it eventually went out of sight. When the Sun
finally vanished, we could see the lights of the city as Colorado Springs came into view. When we landed it was just dark enough that the cars needed lights to get around.

“After parking at the gate in Colorado Springs, I thought to myself what other
job, other than an astronaut, would allow one to see two sunsets in
an hour? All of the sunsets and sunrises from the cockpit are spectacular, but this is a pair of sunsets that I will never forget.”