I have been grounded for much too long now, and my eyes turn skyward as I long to return there.

But twice recently, while visiting the Jamaica Bay Wildlife refuge that sits opposite JFK airport on an otherwise peaceful stretch of shallow water, I was blessed by the sight of my new favorite flying giant, undeniable queen of our modern skies, the Airbus A380.

Double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jetliner, she sits 500 to 800 passengers for trips of up to 15,400 kilometers (9,600 mi), sufficient to fly from New York to Hong Kong, at a cruising speed of about 900 km/h or 560 mph (Mach 0.85) at cruising altitude, just below the speed of sound.

She is seen here in her Korean Air livery, but I was lucky enough to fly on the Emirates sister last year on my way to Dubai and South Africa, and such wonderful flight these were. Sigh.


Korean Air Airbus A380 taking off from JFK aiport
A380 on departure climb, notice the leading edge slats and normal flaps down