It just looks different from high in the sky

The Baltimore Sun

Aerial photography is generally considered to be one of those "fun" assignments for most of us at The Sun.

Granted, flying and taking pictures from an open-doored helicopter is preferable to squeezing into a cramped Cessna 172 -- where the best photographs happen when the pilot tightly banks the plane for several minutes at a time while we stare through a lens at a fixed point on the ground. Let's just say, that's when the Dramamine comes in handy.

Recently, I had the opportunity to fly over portions of Baltimore and Howard counties for a couple of stories. Knowing one's way around the area is critical, especially when, as in this case, one's pilot is not familiar with the local landscape. Since I grew up in Howard County, picking up the landmarks and roads isn't a big deal. I can be a pretty good navigator. This is home.

What continues to amaze me, however, is the continued urbanization of my once-rural terrain.

While attempting to find the town of Columbia, on our way from Owings Mills, I spotted a large development in the distance and pointed out to the pilot that this was probably Columbia.

As we approached, it became apparent that this vast community wasn't Columbia at all, but one that was unfamiliar to me from the air. Seconds later, despite my expert navigational instincts, I was embarrassed to discover that this was the recently developed Waverly Woods community, well to the northwest in Howard County. To further humble the expert navigator, the new community is the location of my own residence.

Sometimes progress seems to elude us, even though it's just 1,500 feet below.

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