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Aviation geekery: Rainy early morning PDX departure

Earlier this fall, the FAA decided to allow use of electronics below 10,000 feet on flights. As an aviation geek, this was great news; not because I could now use my iPod or whatever all the time, but because I could use my camera to record takeoffs and landings.

In particular, I think takeoffs are amazing events, wherein a huge multi-ton semi-controllable beast of a machine on the ground transforms itself into a powerful and graceful master of the skies, seemingly weighing nothing and covering vast distances at over 500 miles an hour. But I wax off-topic…

I don’t fly all that often any more, and yesterday was my first flight since the rule changes went into effect. It was also a very early departure (5:40am takeoff), so it was pitch black outside. Plus it was overcast and a bit rainy.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by, so I recorded the takeoff and initial climb out of Portland. There’s even a bit of commentary, for the sake of my daughter sitting next to me.

(For the best visual experience, click the gear icon to choose 1080p, and then zoom to full screen.)

Despite the darkness and rain (or perhaps because of it), I find the resulting video to be mesmerizing…but that’s mostly because I am an aviation geek, and love this stuff. If you’d like the technical details behind the video, keep reading.

I shot the video using my aging-and-mediocre Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 (could they have given it any worse of a name?), at 1920×1080. I tried to hold the camera steady, but between the runway’s bumps and my daughter’s desire to see out the window, the results weren’t great.

So I had iMovie stabilize the video, which took a really long time (hours, in fact) on my MacBook Pro. But the end result is well worth the time required; the smoothness is really amazing when viewed next to the unedited original. This was my first experience with iMovie’s stabilization feature, and I must say I came away impressed.

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