The world from above – An air race over the skies of Iran

The flight was rather uneventful, a barely half-full Qatar Airways Airbus A380 from Doha to London. Meal trays were being cleared away and I was about to decide which film would’ve been more appropriate to induce me to sleep as I began sprawling to the other two unoccupied seats. A last glance outside, over a Persian Gulf unusually swathed in clouds, and I saw this.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACould have it been?
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Yes, it was. Another plane, apparently flying in our same direction and at the same speed. The flag on the tail was Emirati, the shape the one of an Emirates Boeing 777. Emirates versus Qatar, Airbus versus Boeing; I am told that this combination is enough to fuel aviation geeks’ forums in a frenzy. I could imagine the captain of that 777 telling his first officer “See that? It’s the bloody Qataris! Go get them!”

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And so it started. We ran across the murky skies of the Gulf, the 777 low to our left, menacing like a cheetah lurking a pack of gazelles (or a particularly large and fat one such as our A380). Then, when we made landfall over Iran and the skies mercifully cleared, it disappeared. Had we won? Had we lost?
We were overflying the Zagros Mountains and I was keen on resisting the urge to go to sleep. Iran is a land of mountains, with at least five ranges with more 4,000+ meters peak than the Alps can boast, including the picture-perfect Damavand, 5610mt. I was far away from Damavand, and my flight wouldn’t take me close enough for me to admire it, but I could still marvel at the beauty of the rugged, barren landscape of the southern Zagros, with peaks averaging 3000mt.
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Then, right below us, I spotted the now-familiar contrails of an Emirates plane.

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We played cat-and-mouse for a little while as the snowy peaks of the Zagros provided an apt The Good, the Bad and the Ugly-style backdrop for us (and I even found Morricone’s For a fistful of dollars suite in the in-flight entertainment).

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Then, unfortunately, the Emirates crew got bored, revved up their engines and flew under and past us. Probably they were just obeying orders of an air traffic controller, for whom our standoff in the Iranian skies was nothing more than two vectors too close for comfort.
But I like to think it wasn’t like that.
This entry was posted in Asia, Dubai, Middle East, Public Transportation, The pleasure of flying, The world from above and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The world from above – An air race over the skies of Iran

  1. Natalie K. says:

    What a funny story! That’s great. Too bad your plane didn’t beat them, though. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. varasc says:

    Funny indeed. Great way to find something interesting in the plain boring time spent on board!

    Liked by 1 person

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