Cleared for Takeoff: Blue Skies Ahead, Visibility Unlimited

In stunning aerial photos, go behind the scenes with Circle of Blue director J. Carl Ganter on a morning flight above Lake Travis, just outside Austin, Texas.

Austin Texas Lake Travis flying flight take off airport J. Carl Ganter Circle of Blue

Photo © J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue
Ready for take off.

My grandfather said he loved to fly because of the clouds. I love to fly, because — whether taking the back door off of a Cessna Cherokee Six, propping the window open on a cramped 172, or clipping into a shuddering helicopter — it’s breathtaking to watch the sun rise while defying gravity 500 feet above ground.

A few weeks ago, Jeff Fulgham, CSO of Banyan Water, and I wanted to take a close look at Lake Travis, just outside Austin, Texas. As my colleague Brett Walton reported this week, the lake system is down to 35 percent of capacity, and it shows. New islands have appeared, boats are beached, and there’s a tell-tale bathtub ring — evidence of the lake’s former level.

We took off at the first glow of dawn, made a few circles of the lake, and winged it back just in time for our SXSW-Eco panel discussion, Who Wins the Water, with Sharlene Leurig of Ceres and Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, our nonprofit affiliate.

A beautiful morning, punctuated by more evidence of profound changes to our water planet.

Austin Texas Lake Travis flying flight take off airport J. Carl Ganter Circle of Blue

Photo © J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue
We took off at the first glow of dawn, made a few circles of Lake Travis, which is down to 30 percent of capacity, and winged the plane back to Austin for a panel discussion at SWSW-Eco.

Do you like to watch waterscapes from the pilot seat? Do you live near Lake Travis or in Austin and are experiencing water cuts? I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an email at carlganter@circleofblue, connect with me on Twitter at @jcganter, or comment below.

–J. Carl Ganter
Circle of Blue director

J. Carl Ganter is co-founder and director of Circle of Blue, the internationally recognized center for original frontline reporting, research, and analysis on resource issues with a focus on the intersection between water, food, and energy.

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