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At 30,000 feet westward somewhere over Knoxville, Tenn., from seat 18F the view was pretty spectacular out of my U.S. Airways Airbus A321 starboard portal, but its serenity belies what had been a pretty spectacularly turbulent ride all the way here from out of Charlotte — and we weren’t through it yet by this point. We had just cleared a thick shelf of storm clouds to reveal this lower bank, but instead of things mellowing out, the ship got hit by strong easterly winds that bounced and buffeted and pitched and yawed and dipped it with sinister and somewhat unnerving regularity for what was to be another 15 long minutes or so.

It was enough to bring the pilot onto the intercom from the flight deck to keep the flight attendants seated and to acknowledge that it was probably an uncomfortable place back there in the cabin, as well as to assure us that the plane was designed to safely withstand much greater stresses than we were unpleasantly experiencing and unfortunately would continue to for a while longer. I appreciated the calm and confidence of that update, let me tell you.

So I forced myself to divert from my base fear by whipping out the camera to try for some shots over the wing of the north by northwest airspace that captured all of the beauty and none of the anxiety.