Capt. William G. Frisbie, a Pan Am pilot, has been flying in and out of world capitals for 28 years. Travel is always an adventure for him, with each airborne arrival providing an opportunity for a fresh look at his destination.
Frisbie says he particularly enjoys the descent into a half-dozen airports around the world "because they are either challenging or interesting." Topping his list of flights that offer favorite scenic landings are three trips that originate in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles, each terminating in well-known cities:
* "Our nonstop service to Hong Kong. We leave San Francisco in the afternoon, cut over that beautiful city, head northwest over the Pacific crossing the Aleutian Islands chain. Then we fly along just south of the Kamchatka peninsula in Siberia, along the Kuril Islands just south--we're in Russian air space--across Japan, the East China Sea, along the Formosa Strait, and then across the South China Sea into the British crown colony of Hong Kong. It's fantastic! The airport is located on the Kowloon peninsula north of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island, a beautiful island with peaks all the way up to 1,815 feet. The whole mountainous area is picturesque. The harbor is magic . . . junks, big boats, steamships, the island covered with high-rise buildings. We arrive at 7:15 in the evening and there are all those lights . . .
* "Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Galeao Airport is really a lovely area. As we approach Rio, the coastline--which is beautiful in itself--is oriented east and west on the final approach into the airport. Protruding from this coast is a large bay. The airport is located on Governors island inside the bay surrounded by mountains. On the coastline south of the airport you see Copacabana beach. The white sandy beaches contrast with the tall mountains. On our final approach we see Sugarloaf Mountain, then just a little ways past on the left side is the 100-foot Christ statue on Corcovado Mountain, about 2,400 feet high. Normally we make a daytime landing.
* "Istanbul, Turkey. The airport is called Yesilkoy. I like Istanbul, earlier known as Constantinople, for a lot of reasons--there's history, architecture, natural beauty. When you land at Istanbul, to the north you see the Black Sea. You'll be flying along the Bosporus, sometimes called the Golden Horn. It's really a waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Actually Marmara is the separation between Europe and Asia, about 15 miles long. Istanbul is on the European side of that separation. We fly right over the city with its beautiful buildings . . . the Blue Mosque, the Suleymaniye Mosque . . . Also, you can see the different sets of city walls. The first one went up in 200 A.D.
* "Sydney, Australia. It's another beautiful area, a little like San Francisco. Lovely beaches, tile roofs, blue waterways. You leave Los Angeles in the evening on the longest nonstop commercial flight in the world . . . just over 14 hours and 30 minutes over the Pacific. You cross the Equator and the International Dateline. The latitude of Sydney is a mirror image of Los Angeles'--33 degrees 56 minutes. You can leave here in the winter and arrive there in the summertime."