More than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci tried to imagine what it would be like to soar over mountains, to dip, to glide like a bird. He'd sit on Italian hillsides, sketching, imagining, dreaming. In 1502, he drew one of the first ever, looking-down-from-the-sky panoramas of the Earth — in this case a bit of Tuscany, as if seen by a high flying eagle.
Leonardo da Vinci/wikipaintings.org
Well, if only Leonardo had hung around to see this. Because this is the real deal: a real eagle, living in the alps, near Chamonix in France, is fitted with a teeny camera and microphone and like a feathery magic carpet, we get to hop on its back, wind whistling in our ears, and off we go down a river gorge, oh-so-close to tree tops, along a mountain road, over the heads of three pitiably small tourists, into a woody glen, where — darn! — just as we're about to touch down (and I'm wide-eyed at the effortless of it all), the camera switches off and ... oh, well. The first minute and 24 and a half seconds are glorious.