This week I got the chance to do one of the things I was most looking forward to – I got to fly over the volcano in a light aircraft! As many of you know, and as I probably say too often, I really, really don’t like flying! However, I really wanted to see the volcano from above, and to help record data from the air, so once again, I swallowed my fear! The plane was very small and felt more like getting into a car. With everyone in their seats, we took off, bound for the volcano. I was surprised; I didn’t feel as bad in the small plane as I normally do in larger, commercial passenger jets – although my legs did still shake a little.
We took thermal images and normal photographs to allow us to make models of the volcano and to identify any recent changes to the crater region. The window of the plane was opened to allow us to get good images without the glass in the way. It’s very strange having the window open while several thousand metres up in the air! The view over both the volcano and the surrounding area were stunning! The TV crew we worked with last week were on the flight too – I’m sure they got some fantastic footage! For a while I forgot my fear, overwhelmed by the beauty of the scenes around me! We were in the air for just over an hour, but all too soon it was time to land. The pilot did a great job, landing incredibly smoothly and bringing us safely back to the airport.