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America by Air
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Inspired by our March 2016 cover story by James Fallows,How America Is Putting Itself Back Together,” readers share their best aerial photos from across the U.S. Submit your own via hello@theatlantic.com. (Please provide the location, the story behind the photo, and the largest file size you have. Horizontal photos with a bit of the plane visible—a wing, the edge of a window—are ideal. Terms and Conditions here.)

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America by Air: Watering the Plants

A lush and colorful scene from reader Brian Burk:

Brian Burk

This photo was taken leaning out the open side window of a Cessna 172. The date is July 15, 2013, and I was participating in a “day in the life of Oregon” photography project called Project Dayshoot+30. Thirty years to the day before this shot was taken, a group of photographers had captured images from around Oregon on July 15, 1983, and a reprise of the project was organized in 2013 to commemorate the original venture.

This is a photo of a tree and plant nursery near the town of Monmouth, in the Willamette Valley south of Portland. The time is approximately 8:15 PM, and the midsummer sun is finally starting to set, nicely capturing the spray of irrigation spigots on the colorful plants.

This shot is special to me for many reasons. It reminds me of the natural beauty of my home state of Oregon and of the importance of the Willamette Valley to the history of the U.S. It is also special because of the wonderful day my father and I had shooting photos of Oregon from the air. Dad was in the back seat of the airplane, and my friend Jill Smith was next to me in the co-pilot seat. We finished our journey after dark at Troutdale Airport, my home field, just outside of Portland, where we had begun before dawn that morning. We were exhausted but joyful.

Margaux Fisher

Have a good aerial photo to share? Please send our way. The latest from a reader:

Hi! I’m submitting an aerial photograph of the Twin Span Bridge, which stretches across Lake Pontchartrain, connecting New Orleans and the neighboring town of Slidell. I took this on my first (and only, so far) flying lesson a few months ago. We flew out of the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, which was built in the 1930s on top of a manmade peninsula overlooking the lake.

The bridge gets a mention in the piece Susannah Breslin wrote for us about her PTSD following Hurricane Katrina:

I drove across the eastbound span of the Twin Span Bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, and parts of the westbound span of the bridge were simply gone. I drove an hour through a destroyed forest, and when I looked up in the sky, I tried to imagine a thing so big that it could destroy so much.

But don’t get your hopes up, voyeurs:

Evan Day and Jarod Martin

Our reader Evan asked, “Any chance of a repeat, since this series still seems to be going strong?” Yes indeed—please send us your aerial pics even if you’ve submitted one already. Evan’s previous America by Air is here. His current caption:

This photo was taken from a Piper PA-28-161 Warrior just off the coast of San Diego, showing Torrey Pines golf course to the right and Torrey Pines State Park further up the coast. The beach below the golf course, Black’s Beach, is informally a nude beach, although the resolution on this shot is nowhere near high enough to require any reader warnings.

Pivoting off Caroline’s note from yesterday, reader Tim sends the above video:

If y’all are getting into “videos from your airplane window,” this timelapse cockpit-view of an LAX landing at twilight made the rounds a few years ago, but is as spectacular as ever.

The soundtrack does it no favors, though. So I recommend syncing the video with The Fall’s shadowy, glamorous “L.A.”:

It fits perfectly.

He’s right, and you can mute the top video and un-mute the bottom one to sync them up. If you have an aerial timelapse of your own, please send it our way: hello@theatlantic.com. Here’s a great example on Instagram I spotted this week from a friend of mine, Dayo Olopade, flying into San Francisco’s SFO.

Now that our aerial feature has grown to include videos, I figured I’d throw a new medium in the mix: I snagged this (cinemagraph? Boomerang?) short video back in 2015:

That bright part on the righthand side? That’s Downtown Los Angeles. Here’s another grab from the same flight, as the plane neared landing at LAX:

Edward L. Ewert

A pristine view of the city’s waterfront comes from reader Edward:

I started taking airplane photos in earnest about five years ago when it dawned on me that people, including myself, were numb to the wonders of flying. It has become a rather unpleasant ordeal in the last 15 years or so, but the wonders that speed by still amaze.

I shoot most of my window seat photos with an infrared modified camera, which helps cut through the inevitable haze at 30K+ feet. It gives a unique look, and I’ve included one sample to give you an idea (on approach to LAX). The other is a more conventional color photo over Miami, Florida.

But how colorful it is! Here’s a less scenic but still really cool shot of Miami from another mid-flight reader. Send your own, as always, to hello@.

Alan Nelson

Stu Smith captured one halo rainbow for us a few months ago, but now Alan ups the ante:

Here’s a photo for your consideration: a nice double rainbow during our departure out of Philadelphia the other day, with the Delaware River below. Always remember to look out the window …

… or at least rewatch this classic YouTube:

Tom James

This photo from reader Brian Neil doesn’t have a part of the aircraft in the frame but it makes the view all the more surreal. Here’s Brian with details and a bonus pic:

My friend Tom took this photo during a flight over San Francisco while I piloted a Cessna 172. The fog in SF has always been one of its most interesting features, and I love days when it partially covers the city. Sutro Tower gets to lord over the fog all the time, but it’s not common for it to reach downtown like this:

Jessica Placzek at KQED, a public radio station in San Francisco, profiled the Sutro Tower last summer:

Back in the 1960s, San Francisco had really bad television reception. By many accounts, it was the worst of any city in America. Good reception required a clear line of sight from the broadcast tower to your TV antenna, and in hilly San Francisco this was a challenge. Broadcasters began the hunt for a location to build a very tall tower that could send a clear TV signal far and wide. [...]

Thomas Krashen

This reader follows up Friday’s pastoral view from southwest Michigan with a lake-filled view from the northwest corner of the state:

Early evening over Antrim County, Michigan, back in April 2008, following departure from the Antrim Co. Airport (KACB) on Runway 2. Intermediate Lake is in the foreground and Lake Bellaire is in the upper right of the photo. The small town of Bellaire (pop. approx. 1080) is visible between the airport and Lake Bellaire.

After spending 40 years as a pilot based in Michigan, I have quite a few more photos. I’ll be happy to send more if you’re interested.

Yes please. And if you have one yourself, even if you’ve had a photo posted already, please send to hello@theatlantic.com.

Jim Maxwell

This was taken in a Cessna 172 in early August 2015. The location is near Kalamazoo, Michigan, looking west at around 5500 MSL. I loved how the low sun was reflecting off of Lake Michigan and also filtering through the clouds.