Europe, from up high

aerial images of Europe

Europe, from up high

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth, with eyes turned skyward. For there you’ve been and there you long to return.“
-From the script of the film “I, Leonardo da Vinci”  written by John H. Secondari

I landed this afternoon at Orly Airport in Paris, surprised to find that though I have landed here many times before, I was just as excited as the first time I ever came here. Aerial photos images Europe

It was my first flight after the reopening of the borders, and I am rediscovering the wonderful habit of flying. My trips to Estonia and Finland were cancelled due to Coronavirus restrictions, but in the end Paris is neither a bad consolation prize, nor a bad first destination in this new era.

Covid-19 separated us from our routines, even the simplest and most trivial, and the passing days have made us curiously miss them. In my case I was separated from my routine of flying on airplanes.One day, unimaginably, the borders of Europe that had become almost merely symbolic were drawn again, separating each country and silencing the sound of plane turbines in the sky.

In 2017, continuing an upward trend that began in 2010, more than one billion people flew between European Union countries. In 2018, according to Eurostat data, air traffic increased by another 6% within Europe, meaning that 101,006,000 passengers, the same number as the population of the European Union (including babies), had taken a plane trip at least twice that year. Covid-19 abruptly ended this upward trend in the aeronautical sector, plunging it in a short time into a global crisis of unprecedented proportions. In just five weeks in Italy, air traffic went from 459,709 passengers arriving and departing on Sunday, February 23, 2020, to a mere 6,780 on Sunday, March 29. Compared to last year, the balance for the month of March 2020 shows a decrease of 66.3% in flights and 85.1% in passengers. The percentages are undoubtedly the same for the rest of Europe. Aerial photos images Europe

In March, I landed at the Malpensa airport to start my quarantine in the city of Milan. And so I was grounded on the Earth, but with my eyes turned skyward, dreaming and longing for all the takeoffs and landings that this gallery of images presents, and that I had always thought nothing could ever stop.   Aerial photos images Europe

In coach or business class, the window seat is my “kingdom”. If I don’t get assigned a window seat when checking in, I wait until the plane is fully boarded and then use every persuasive skill I have to convince a flight attendant or someone sitting at a window that I have an essential need to sit there and take pictures during the flight. When other passengers accept my request to switch seats, I feel a little like I am stealing a treasure from them. And when I am not able to do so, I suffer seeing the colors outside in the distance and console myself by convincing myself that one day I will make the same journey again and will be able to use my camera without limits.During the entire flight, even the longest and most tiring ones, I am glued to the transparent acrylic, contemplating the immense infinity outside, the changing colors and shapes of the clouds, the geography, the cities that appear and disappear like spots, the sunsets, the nights. Next to me people sleep, they get lost in Excel tables or in games on their phones. I can’t get distracted for a second from the world I see from my little window and my camera is always in my hands, ready for the right moment to catch an image.

This photographic gallery is the result of almost a decade of flights across the European continent, and includes aerial images of Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Austria, France, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Poland, Ukraine, Belgium, Holland and Sweden.

Being on the surface of the Earth for several months allowed me to rediscover Milan and put together a photographic testimony of the Coronavirus period. Now the flights and the journeys are starting again, and will lead me to discover new images that I will be able to share with everyone who follows this page. Aerial photos images Europe

The journey of no return, like a sudden breaking of limits and prejudices, in which we dissolve in the vast immensity of the world and its cultures is the central axis of this experience that we live together.

 Pablo Munini,  Paris, France, September 2020  

Aerial photos images Europe

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