Lonely Planet Writer

Photographer pilot captures otherworldly weather events from inside the cockpit

A spectacular series of photographs has been released that shows some of the unique and incredible sights pilots see from inside the cockpit of a plane mid-flight.

An amazing view of the Northern Lights from the cockpit of a plane.
An amazing view of the Northern Lights from the cockpit of a plane. Image by Amazing-Aviation
Thunderstorms light up the insides of cloud formations.
Thunderstorms light up the insides of cloud formations. Image by Amazing-Aviation

The photographs were captured by senior first officer Christiaan van Heijst, a photographer who has been working as a pilot for over ten years. He runs the company Amazing-Aviation together with his friend Daan Krans, a photographer who works as a dispatcher at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. The company specialises in unique aviation photography, offering a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of cabins, cockpits and other lesser seen areas of aircrafts.

An incredible view of thunderstorms lighting up clouds over a city at night.
An incredible view of thunderstorms lighting up clouds over a city at night. Image by Amazing-Aviation
Lightning streaks across the sky during a storm.
Lightning streaks across the sky during a storm. Image by Amazing-Aviation

The selection of pictures shows stunning weather occurrences such as a cloud formation lit up during a thunderstorm, lightning streaking across the night sky and the famous Northern Lights in all their glory.

A photograph that shows the cockpit of a plane lit up.
A photograph that shows the cockpit of a plane lit up. Image by Amazing-Aviation
A view of the galaxy with the Northern Lights.
A view of the galaxy with the Northern Lights.

“Ever since I started my first job as a pilot, I felt the need to capture the atmosphere of the unique views that I had from the cockpit. When viewing a big mass of Northern Lights or an active thunderstorm, I feel very small and insignificant compared to the raw energy, beauty and size of what plays out in front of me,” said Christiaan.

An view of a brightened sky line from the cockpit.
A view of a brightened skyline from the cockpit. Image by Amazing-Aviation
Lightning lights up inside some clouds as the Northern Lights cover the sky above it.
Lightning inside clouds as the Northern Lights cover the sky above it. Image by Amazing-Aviation

Flying large cargo planes all over the world, Christiaan takes photos from the cockpit while his fellow pilots are flying. He captures  thunderstorms when they are not severe enough to greatly affect the flow of a flight.

A view of the cockpit with the Northern Lights blanketing the windscreen.
A view of the cockpit with the Northern Lights blanketing the windscreen. Image by Amazing-Aviation
The Northern Lights on the horizon.
The Northern Lights on the horizon. Image by Amazing-Aviation
The runway lit up during landing.
The runway lit up during landing. Image by Amazing-Aviation

“My colleagues were very supportive, since they can now show their loved ones at home what our job is like from the cockpit. I feel very privileged that I can somehow translate these views with my camera into something that can be shared, viewed and appreciated by anyone,” Christiaan said.