Science and engineering.
Whenever I find myself at a large airport I can’t help but marvel at the way they are constructed. All those levels, those mysterious rooms, the luggage belts which toss out bags from some hidden place and take them away to same, the Skyline trains which go between terminals without any human drivers, the cafés and waiting areas, the shops, the toilets, the lounges, the passport controls and security checks, the extending sleeves and moving tracks, the computers and of course the people who work there. When I look up at the incomprehensible ceiling or down through a transparent lift I try to imagine the minds of the people who could design it all, who could envisage those fantastic halls and corridors, those offices and counters. Engineers and architects, naturally, but also modern scientists make all this possible. Have you ever been to a really huge airport like Frankfurt or Schiphol in Amsterdam or Heathrow in London or JFK in New York? When you emerge in Arrivals or go to Departures, it feels like visiting a totally futuristic city. I swear it took me at least twenty minutes to run from my arrivals gate to the departure lounge when I landed in Frankfurt. Have you ever watched airplanes land and depart at such a place? We counted several times, every minute there is a plane whooshing by, with lots of men and a few women watching from inside. Any large airport today caters to all the passengers’ needs. There are shops where one can buy whatever one needs for a journey or get souvenirs and gifts, lots of specialized places for those of us who either forgot an item or who had the misfortune to lose one. Ever had a zipper stuck on you? This happened to me recently when I was going to security check. I began to unzip my coat and the zipper stuck on top so I couldn’t take it off! We managed to unzip it but to all intents and purposes I was now going to my destination coatless! I spent the remaining time before boarding happily trying on every coat in sight in various airport shops while my husband repaired the zipper.
And the fantastic sights one can see from high above are really something. We were lucky to find ourselves at Munich airport when it suddenly became -20C and there was a lot of snow everywhere. The landscape looked totally different from the one we saw two weeks ago, and yet it was the same place. In the middle of the flight, flying fast forwards in time, we went straight into the night and saw, in the sudden clearing, a very large city glittering below. It was like a peek into a fairy-tale from the altitude of 10,000 meters. The magnificent machines which take us through time and space, the people who make it all possible… Unimaginable, even a hundred years ago, and yet here we are, taking it in our stride.