Orbital View: You've Got Blood on Your Sands

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Just kidding! These are vegetables:

A photo posted by ESA (@europeanspaceagency) on

From the European Space Agency’s lovely, thorough caption:

Welcome to the #city of #Yuma in the United States, in southwestern #Arizona!

Yuma is home to some 90 000 people. Situated along the #Colorado River, the Mexican frontier lies just west of it and California lies to the north.

Yuma was founded in 1854, and is considered to be the winter vegetable capital of the US because it has some of the most fertile soil in the country.

The city’s official website offers a bizarre fun fact:

By 1949, with Yuma’s postwar economy looking a bit grim, the Yuma Jaycees decided to stage an elaborate publicity stunt to spotlight the area’s year-round perfect flying weather: an attempt to set a record for nonstop flying.  

The plane was an Aeronca Sedan named the “City of Yuma” and emblazoned with the hopeful slogan “The City With A Future.”  The small plane took off on August 24 and did not touch the ground again for nearly 47 days – until October 10, 1949.  

The record-setting 1,124 hours aloft was made possible by a team of volunteers who passed food and fuel to pilots Woody Jongeward and Bob Woodhouse from the back of a Buick convertible as it sped along the runway at 80 miles an hour, with the plane flying just above it and matching speeds.  

Cheers to you, Yuma.

(See all Orbital Views here)