An Airport Comes to Life.

Zupp Sydney Airport
An Airport Comes to Life

From my perch on the 8th floor I can see across the International Terminal at Sydney as the airport is coming to life. The rain on the window obscures the view slightly but the flashing lights of the ground vehicles in the distance are still clearly seen.

The roadway below is a snake of red taillights as taxis, buses and family vehicles drop off their passengers. Car boots are popped and luggage rolls onto the pavement as journeys to distant lands take their first steps. The queues begin to form both inside the terminal and out on the taxiway as aircraft under tow wait their turn to cross the still-silent runway.

On the flight deck, crews ready for the day ahead. Coffee cups are in their holders and “nav bags” slid down beside the seat – iPads in their mounts. Calculations are made and the data entered into the Flight Management Computer. The latest weather report is checked and the digits on the fuel gauges steadily increase. Outside, a lone figure with a torch and a high-viz vest braves the rain and walks the aircraft’s perimeter, checking that there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.

The airport’s pulse is beginning to beat. Soon, the lone inbound aerial ambulance will be witness to the release of a swarm. The taxiways will be filled and the runways, no longer silent, will rapid-fire their occupants into the air. In the distance, a thread of landing lights will weave their way down from the night sky, each of them with their sights set on the landing threshold and beyond that – sleep.

In my mind’s eye the scene is vivid. I have been there so many times on Boeings and Airbuses and many aircraft of far less scale. And yet as I sit here observing the scene and knowing its workings, I feel like an outsider. It has been so long that this world seems almost alien and yet I can recall the smallest detail without pause.

For now, all I can wonder is “if”. And if so, “when”? Until I have the answers, I’ll watch with interest and hope. I will walk my miles, answer the doctor’s questions and then hope a little more.

Owen Zupp Aviation Books