American Futures: The Video

"In a world...."

The Atlantic's excellent video team, led by Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, was out at Montgomery Country Airpark in Gaithersburg, Maryland, two weeks ago as we headed off on our journey. Here's how it looked then.


How it looks now is that we have two weeks of road-wear on us, as my wife described yesterday. But spirits are high. Because, honestly, there is so much to see and describe.

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Note to the aviation-conscious: I said in an earlier post, and say in this video, that our religious principle on this journey is no difficult flying. Not at night, not "having" to be anywhere, not all-day long-hauls, not small or tricky airports, not in bad weather, not anything of the sort. The day of the filming, in the DC area, ceilings were low throughout the morning. We'd planned to leave early but waited until early afternoon, when the ceiling went above 1,000 feet (and was improving quickly) before we took off.

As you will guess from the condition of the skies in this video, it began as an Instrument Flight Rules trip, because we went into the clouds 1000 feet up and stayed there for the first hour, through Maryland, West Virginia, and eastern Ohio. The weather improved as we went and we landed in the famed Holland, Michigan, in the clear.

Also for the aviation-conscious: yes, the door of the plane is open while we're taxiing, at around time 1:30. It was hot. Doors-closed is one of the final pre-take-off check items. And yes, just after that in the video the taxiing seems to be off the center line. That was the track of the film-crew car, not the plane! Just for the record.

Thanks to Kasia and her team for his video. More about Michigan, South Dakota, and Wyoming immediately in store. 

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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