This Airline Pilot Takes Stunning Photographs from His Flight Deck

Long a keen shutterbug, airline pilot Paul Fox is sharing his impressive aerial photography to the world.

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Aerial photography
Photo: Paul Fox

A seat with a view

When Paul Fox was a small boy, the pilot on a holiday flight to Corfu let him come and see the cockpit. “It was a wonderful experience and it really gave me the bug for flying,” he says. Now, at the age of 46, he is an airline pilot, with the rank of Captain. Long a keen photographer, he started taking pictures from the flight deck, “out of frustration that other people can’t see the views that we can.

“I get amazing 180-degree vision and the clarity is something else. At least once or twice a month there’s a view, often a sunrise or sunset, that’s absolutely breathtaking.”

So when the aircraft is on autopilot and his First Officer is at the controls, Fox takes out his Nikon camera and captures images such as the striking shots on these pages. The passengers are in no danger at all, he explains reassuringly. Aircraft are at their safest when run by computers.

“In some of the worst conditions, we’re not allowed to fly the plane manually,” Fox adds, pointing out that airliners could not fly as close to one another if human beings were trying to keep them exactly the right distance apart.

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Turbines in the North Sea
Photo: Paul Fox

Born to be a pilot

Both his parents served in the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and within days of his birth he made his first flight from England to Germany, where his father was stationed.

“I was in the Air Cadets as a boy. I flew gliders and Chipmunk training planes. I passionately wanted to join the Air Force and fly fast jets, but I was long-sighted, so they would never accept me. It was only much later that I realized I could still fly commercial aircraft.”

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Aerial photography
Photo: Paul Fox

A necessary career change

He began his working life as a lawyer, but it wasn’t for him. A spell as a guide for a tour company followed, leading travellers on safari in Tanzania and on walks through the Central Asian mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

Fox finally took to the air as a bush pilot in Botswana, “It’s the hidden gem of Africa. Flying there taught me to cope with all sorts of conditions, from thunderstorms to sandstorms. It was glorious and the wildlife was spectacular.” Eventually, the time came to grow up and get a steady job as an airline pilot. But the love of adventure never left him.

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Lake Annecy in French Alps
Photo: Paul Fox

On top of the world

Fox’s other lifelong passion is mountaineering. “For years I had a recurring dream about plodding through deep snow and standing on the summit of Everest.”

In 2015 he was actually on the North Face of Everest when a devastating earthquake struck Nepal, forcing the climb to be abandoned.

Undaunted, he returned in 2017 and made it to the top. And yet, Fox admits, “When we got to the summit we were in the middle of a snowstorm, and there was no view at all. It was the ultimate irony.”

Next, check out these gorgeous photos of the world’s most colourful towns.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest International

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