Photos of the Week: Map to the Stars

Streaks of light from a landing aircraft always point the way home

By BlueSkyStaff

Published May 17, 2021

Read Time: 2 mins


When you think about it, maps are really just a series of dots and lines used to show destinations and paths.

Rarely are those lines straight—they squiggle and veer and twist. And the dots aren’t laid out in any consistent pattern. The real world typically doesn’t produce visual order.

Air travel skips over much of that. Cars and boats have to account for topography, but aircraft are the embodiment of “as the crow flies.” And while it’s true that many flight paths aren’t perfectly straight, they come pretty close.

If nothing else, the beginning and end of every commercial flight are straight as an arrow. Once an aircraft is lined up with a runway, at takeoff or landing, that’s the only direction it’s going in.

Mark Yazer captured that rigid process beautifully during a recent nighttime landing at Pittsburgh International Airport, coincidentally evoking the maps that planes skip over. A long exposure turned the lights on the aircraft on approach into dots and lines.

Of course, when it comes to finding your way without a map, landmarks are always helpful. For Pittsburghers, the sight of Hall of Fame Steelers running back Franco Harris (at least, his lifelike figure) means “home.”

Joe and Alicia Merlino flip the homecoming tradition on its head by visiting Franco as they depart PIT to “pray that we have a safe flight.” It’s not a bad idea—the man who made the Immaculate Reception probably has some divine connections, after all.

Thanks, Mark and Joe!

Our readers continue to pass along shots of unique aircraft, international airports, historical events, gorgeous views and even family vacation photos for this feature. We love them! Keep them coming—you can click here for submission guidelines.

Joe and Alicia Merlino always visit the Franco Harris figure at Pittsburgh International Airport before they get on a flight. (Photo submitted by Joe Merlino)

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