Chirstiaan van Heijst is naast piloot ook fotograaf en dat blijkt dé perfecte combinatie te zijn voor het maken van de meest adembenemende foto’s! De Nederlander wist al op jonge leeftijd dat hij piloot wilde worden, hij haalde eerder zijn vliegbrevet dan rijbewijs, en vliegt tegenwoordig in een Boeing 747 vrachtvliegtuig..

Het begon bij Christiaan allemaal met een passie voor fotograferen en werd uiteindelijk een uit de hand gelopen hobby. Inmiddels heeft hij ruim 90k aan volgers op Instagram en was zijn werk al te zien op andere CNN, BBC en NatGeo. Wat een toffe baan hebben piloten toch ook..

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I guess most aviation-geeks have no trouble recognizing this airport at first glance; the old airport of Quito. Or as it was officially named; Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Ecuador, South America. Defunct since 2013, it earned a notorious reputation among pilots in the 53 years it was opened. Having claimed many lives and airplanes that either slipped off the runway, flew into buildings and residential areas or ended their flight on the side of a mountain, the airport was known as one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Towering mountains and active volcanoes of over 20.000ft, hiding in clouds or in plain sight around the city can end a flight prematurely and are dangerous enough by themselves, but if the winds are powerful enough to push their way over the Andes, the resulting turbulence, mountain waves and invisible windshear can prove fatal for any trespasser. Here, blue skies are the tell-tale sign of caution. Far above sea level, the airport is at the very limit of what modern jet aircraft can operate into. The effectiveness of engines, wings and control surfaces depends on the mass of air flow and at 10.000ft the mass of air is greatly reduced. To still be able to fly and steer, the airspeed needs to be about 20% higher and this in effect results in a much larger turn-radius in the tight valley, less thrust from engines, less terrain clearance, high landing speeds, longer stopping distance and easily overheated brakes. Not to speak of the extremely crowded airspace with fast-paced unintelligible South-American Spanish chatter on the radio or non-normal situations like losing an engine, loss of hydraulics or cabin pressure that can quickly turn a relatively simple failure into a fast-developing complex emergency with no pause-button. Before flying into Quito a thorough simulator training had to be done, preparing us at least partially for the unique challenges of flying here and what to do and consider if luck was not on our side. I'm glad I have flown to this illustrious airport a handful of times, adding another notable marker on the world map in my study room and unique entry in my logbook. #avgeek #aviation #airport #quito

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A glance out of the window on a view that never ceases to touch me. The full moon is shining bright, making it almost look like silver-toned daylight to night-adjusted eyes. It's illuminating the clouds, glinstering occasionally in the Pacific Ocean's surface below and across our delicately curved wing. Stars, constellations and a faint hint of the milky way shine above our heads, blocked from view by the limitations of the small window. Flying over such a remote corner of the globe always adds a bit of mystery to views. When I see those clouds, no matter how boring or common they are, I know I'm the only person to ever see them before they have dissolved or changed into a different form altogether before another airplane will fly here again. The stars above on the other hand, as reliable as ever, will be seen by many thousands of people tonight. A reminder that no matter how isolated I think I am here halfway the largest ocean in the world, we're all still occupying this tiny, vulnerable blue marble floating through the vast emptiness of space. jpcvanheijst.com #window #airplane #avgeek #aviation #aviationlovers #moon #moonlight #aviationgeek #photography #stars #night #nightphotography #boeing747 #milkyway #instagood

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Moonlight cruise, flying through the silver-blue sky across continents and oceans. My affection with the Moon and its light is not just a romantic or nostalgic perception, the bright Lunar glow is actually helpful to find our way above the clouds. Instead of large pieces of black glass, distortedly mirroring a handful of lights from inside the cockpit, we suddenly become part of a much larger structure. Instead of just a 10 sq feet universe filled with two people, dials and displays, we find ourselves suddenly spectators to a world that is infinitely larger than our own flightdeck. The warm windows change into apertures that allow a view onto endless landscapes and vistas with the immortal constellations above. Where a blind person can find his or her way easily with a white cane, scanning the immediate surroundings by scanning from left to right and listening to the sounds it transmits back, our weather radar acts like a white cane for us. It helps us to find our way through a world where eyes cannot see, giving us a fairly detailed idea of what is out there straight just ahead. What it cannot do, is show us the absolutely spellbinding world that hides from the planet's inhabitants bound to the ground. Giant mountains and canyons of clouds, illuminated from one side by the Lunar light post in the sky; a single light source so unique that it transforms even the most mundane landscapes into surreal scenes that could just come from a Sci-Fi or fantasy movie. In a way it's complementing the warm and cosy atmosphere of our heated flightdeck. The humming of the air-conditioning, the indistinct chatter on the radio and the smell of fresh coffee. An trespasser in this dreamlike world above the clouds, but completely at home. jpcvanheijst.com #boeing #boeing747 #boeinglovers #avgeek #aviation #aviationlovers #aviationgeek #pilot #pilotview #pilotlife #moonlight #moon #dearmoon #instadaily #photo #photography #longexposure #instaphotography

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Below unfolds a typical Dutch aerial view; flat agricultural fields with countless of canals for as far as you can see. Especially the coastal provinces of North- and South Holland (where the name 'Holland' actually comes from, but that's entirely besides the point of this caption) are famous for their water management. As most people know, roughly one third of The Netherlands is located below sea level, where the province of North Holland is for over 90% below sea level. How come The Netherlands isn't just one big lake with a handful of wooden shoes floating about?  Before 1500, most of these provinces consisted of large lakes and peaty moors with some random settlements and small cities in between. To create more room for agriculture it was decided to get rid of the lakes and excess water, so between 1500-1700 the province of Holland was pumped dry and turned into a usable landscape.  An extensive system of pumps, canals, dikes and dunes is working around the clock to keep the sea and rivers from drowning all the Dutchies in one sweep, even up to today. Even though I've read and learnt all about it in school when I was young, it is still an impressive sight when flying over this part of the world. All the canals, the rivers, the water management, the history. It's pretty impressive if you think about it and when I see this small stamp-sized country glide by under my wings it is like a history lesson unfolding before my eyes. This is the country where I've been born and raised; a small, stubborn and battered nation that literally created its own foundations and worked itself up to become a player in the history of the world. So much for keeping it short this time.. once I started writing about the canals this caption turned into half a book. I've cut out over half of it to keep it readable, figuring that most of the history and information was not even remotely connected to the image haha. Long story short; here is a shot of a typical Dutch landscape. Clouds, canals and not a mountain in sight. Mand. jpcvanheijst.com #netherlands #nederland #holland #landscapephotography #landscape #photography #photo #photooftheday #picoftheday #photograpy

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Stardust spirit. Even though the brightest part of the galaxy, the core, is visible on the northern hemisphere roughly from March to October, a fainter part of it can still be seen in the night sky. Maybe not as spectacular, but still enough to give a sense of wonder when looking up and gaze at the universe. This shot was taken somewhere over Northern China last week. The lights on the ground appear bright on this shot, but that is mainly due to the 6-second exposure with ISO 4000. To the naked eye, the city lights were only dimly shining through the mist of clouds below and the stars above were shining as bright as they do here. The world from 34.000ft. jpcvanheijst.com #milkyway #stars #night #nightphotography #nightshift #nightscape #nightsky #sky #skyporn #longexposure #longexposure_shots #photography #photoart #instadaily #instapic #piloteyes

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Flying in and out of Afghanistan can be a challenging endeavour any day, but when the weather turns bad with heavy snow, fog and clouds it is even more so. During my last flight into Kabul we flew in heavy clouds and snow showers all the way down to the runway in the darkest hour of the night. The radio altimeter counting down the distance between us and the ground with not a single recognizable feature to be noticed in the grey void outside my windows, mountains rushing by past our wings without being able to notice or see them at all. Only mere moments before we had to break off our approach, the runway lights glowed faintly through the thick snow and mist while billions of snowflakes were rushing by my windows. Just in time. Runway in sight; cleared to land. On our way out after sunrise, we flew along one of the airways that I used to fly on the Fokker 50 about 10 years ago when I flew here in Afghanistan, just a few thousand feet higher this time. The same valleys, mountains and canyons floated by; I recognize the same peaks and landmarks along the way and I realise that this country has not changed at all. No matter how many armies and governments have tried to rule over this rough spot on the world map, the undisturbed landscape has been the same for thousands of years and will likely be the same for ages to come. From the first day I flew those domestic routes across the country, I told myself that I would love to travel across this country by car one day and enjoy these impressive sceneries from below. Unfortunately the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated ever since and is not expected to improve any time soon. Who knows, one day. When reason returns to the Hindu Kush and it's people can live in peace again. jpcvanheijst.com #afghanistan #landscape #landscapephotography #landscapes #landscape_lovers #winter #winterwonderland #avgeek #aviation #flying #aerial #pilot #pilotlife #pilotview @afghanistan_you_never_see

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Yesterday we took off for a long flight to Japan, blasting off the runway at 03.00 exactly and finding our way through the dark skies of Central Asia. When we reach our cruising altitude, about 30 minutes after taking off, our workload decreases dramatically and I figured it was a good time for some breakfast. Returning to the cockpit with a warm cup of coffee in my hands, I stood there for a full minute. . Muffled sounds of radio-chatter coming from the speakers, the familiar rush of air conditioning and airflow; it feels so familiar after all those years and it's easy to take it all for granted. Another day in the air, another entry in my logbook. A flight like any other. But when I looked at my own seat from this different perspective, with the first light of a new day glooming on the horizon, I realized once again that I am one of the handful of people to see and experience those views. The 747-flightdeck is reserved only for those who are privileged to have found their long way up to the top of the aviation-pyramid. Such a shame that passengers are not allowed to experience those special tranquil moments in the cockpit anymore since 9/11. Since that day, the cockpit became a secluded domain of pilots and dials, displays and complex systems, combined with a view that is literally out of this world. Maybe my photos can translate what it feels like, giving the world a glimpse of the sky beyond. . Make sure to turn up the screen brightness for this dark photo! . jpcvanheijst.com . #boeing #boeing747 #nightphotography #aviation #aviationlovers #aviationdaily #aviationgeek #airplane #avgeek #piloteye #pilot #pilotview #instagramaviation #photography #photooftheday #instadaily #sunrise #sunriseoftheday

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