Tag Archives: London City Airport

Geneva to London in 20 aerial photos

I took the following shots during a flight from Geneva to London on the morning of Thursday, April 19th – the hottest April day for at least 60 years.

A large anticyclone brought temperatures far above average in many parts of Europe

Weather conditions on the BA CitiFlyer service to London City were virtually cloud free all the way thanks to a large anticyclone stationed almost slap bang over central Europe.

It was hard to stop looking out the window of the Embraer 190 from the moment we started our climb above the shores of Lac Léman, the Jet d’Eau the first landmark to become easily visible.

The rest of the flight offered a procession of chances to ‘guess the place’ as we crossed France, the Channel, and Kent before making our descent as we reached suburban south-east London.

Before take-off the pilot mentioned our final approach would offer a very close up view of The Shard and the event didn’t disappoint. It felt we were only metres above the 1,000ft high pinnacle, the spectacle drawing gasps from passengers sitting behind me; it was very reminiscent of the final approach to the old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong.

Disembarking brought a further treat as I walked out into the unprecedented April heat, the 29.1C reached that day made it the hottest April day for at least 60 years.

taxiing geneva
One of the met enclosures at Genève Aéroport with the hills of the Jura in the background.
geneva fouintain
Lac Leman, Geneva, with the Jet d’Eau clearly visible
lac leman
As we climbed higher the Portes du Soleil mountains could be seen in the distance with the Mont Blanc Massif beyond
le gris nez
Le Gris Nez and Wissant on the coast of Pas de Calais, with the port in the background
dover white
The white cliffs of Dover
Whitstable, Kent, just to the east of where the UK’s hottest temperature was recorded at Faversham
The Elmley National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey with Minster-on-Sea in the background
The mouth of the Medway with the Isle of Grain on the left and Sheerness and Queenborough on the right
London Gateway
The London Gateway ‘superport’ with Canvey Island just to the right and Southend in the distance
The port of Tilbury, Essex, on the north bank of the Thames with Gravesend on the other side
QE2 bridge
The Queen Elizabeth II bridge
sub se
Suburban SE London
The 02 / Millennium Dome with Canary Wharf to the left
canary wharf
Canary Wharf
the city
The City
ruskin park
Ruskin Park, Denmark Hill, with Canary Wharf in the distance


The Shard and London Bridge station. The aircraft is now very low and we feel very close to the building’s 1,000ft high pinnacle. Passengers behind me gasp and I am reminded of the final approach into Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport
Tower Bridge and City Hall
canary close
Canary Wharf again but this time we’re a lot closer
The o2, again
The Emirates Airline / Thames cable car




Jean Michel Jarre’s Destination Docklands

jarre adIn the autumn of 1988 Jean Michel Jarre staged Destination Docklands – two concerts of lights, lasers, fireworks and music set amid the derelict Royal Docks of east London.

The concerts nearly didn’t happen though. After what seemed like months struggling against council bureaucracy and satisfying concerns over safety Team Jarre were faced with another nightmare on the day: the Great British weather. A howling force 7 westerly hampered preparations for the first concert on the morning of October 8th – a day which turned out to be the wettest day of 1988. Nearly an inch of rain soaked the grandstands and dock area – but the water was the least of production crews worries…

The floating stage, a giant 30m by 40m ‘battleship’ constructed on top of 16 huge steel barges towed down from the north of England especially for the event, was supposed to move from one end of Royal Victoria Dock to the other. But with 400 tonnes of material on board it was thought safer to leave it locked in its berth – leaving whole sections of the crowd in temporary grandstands wondering where the Frenchman was twiddling his knobs. Not that it mattered.

One of the many illustrations of the event by Mark Fisher

Jarre’s outdoor son et lumieres have always been about the spectacle as a whole with searchlights, lasers and fireworks exploding in time to the music. As with his record-breaking Houston show two years prior giant hand-painted Panni images were projected on to buildings – this time the freshly-painted Spillers Millennium Mills building.

If anything the constant wind and intermittent rain added to drama of the show that took the spectator from the Industrial Revolution through the Swingin’ Sixties up to the 1990s. Jarre was joined on stage by Hank Marvin for London Kid and Rendezvous IV. Mireille Pombo and a choir from Mali also joined Jarre on stage for September, a piece he dedicated to Dulcie September, a South African anti-apartheid political activist, who was assassinated in Paris, France, in March of that year.

The concerts were watched by 200,000 people in the Royal Docks area and thousands more in the surrounding streets and parks.

The Royal Docks have come a long way since the concert. Where the crowd stood is now home to the excellent ExCeL exhibition centre. The fledgling London City airport has grown into a convenient European hub. The small STOL planes bound for Edinburgh and Rotterdam have been joined by BAe 146 jets – even though the airport’s initial promise was to refrain from using jets.

A cable car can now whisk you across the Thames and there are plans to turn the adjacent Royal Albert Dock into a tech hub for China.

There’s some footage of the months of preparation that went into the concert on YouTube. The Making of Destination Docklands sets the scene of the difficulties of putting the show together – and includes some fascinating footage of a wasteland that was the Royal Victoria Dock.

Part One of the Mike Mansfield edit of the concert can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z88QqTskJ4c

Spillers Millennium Mill was repainted 25 years ago especially for the concert. It now provides the backdrop for the London Triathlon across from the ExCeL centre
Spillers Millennium Mill was repainted especially for the concert. It now provides the backdrop for the London Triathlon across from the ExCeL centre