Anyone who has traveled by air has probably found themselves wondering what the view is like from the cockpit. Unless you’re an actual pilot, though, chances are you’ve never gotten the chance.

Unfortunately, for most of us, getting the window seat on an airplane is the closest we’ll ever come to experiencing the vast beauty of the clouds and sky as a pilot does. That is, until now.

Thanks to photographs taken by Boeing 747 pilot Christiaan “JPC” Van Heijst, people are getting a rare glimpse from a cockpit in the sky. His pictures are more remarkable than you could imagine…

JPC Van Heijst, a 33-year-old who was born and raised in the Netherlands, is a senior first officer on the Boeing 747-8 and 747-400 freighter for Cargolux. He started taking photographs from his cockpit in order to give the world a first-person glimpse into what his view is like.

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With a passion for photography and planes from an early age, JPC decided to combine his hobbies once he officially earned his pilot’s license. It’s a good thing he did, because now everyone gets to see his incredible photographs!

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Not only is JPC’s photography unique on its own, but it’s giving everyday people a glimpse into a world they’ve likely never seen before. Here, he captures a point-of-view shot of what it looks like when lightning strikes right above the plane.

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Many of his photographs allow people to experience the complex nature of flying planes. Most of his shots, which are taken from the rear of the cockpit, provide a view of all the buttons and gadgets that a pilot needs in order to operate the aircraft.

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“Seeing the entire world in my job, I feel privileged to be in a position to capture many different parts of the planet through my camera and immortalize the beauty of the places I visit,” JPC says in his bio on his personal website.

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This shot in particular almost makes it seem as though JPC is gliding his plane across an ocean. It sure looks like a comfortable ride, but it must be difficult to fight the urge to nod off when you’re drifting among the clouds like that!

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JPC is so used to these gorgeous views that it’s almost easy for him to forget how lucky he actually is. Most people travel from all around the world to experience the northern lights, but for JPC, it’s just another day at the office!

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If you thought you had a great view from your window seat, just look at the beautiful blue sky and the curvature of the Earth that JPC gets to enjoy as he flies his plane and its passengers through the night. It’s truly a majestic sight to behold.

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How’s this for a view? Not only does JPC have a front-row seat to these incredible panoramic displays, but he’s guaranteed to be able to get the best shot with his camera. It’s definitely easy to see why he loves both of his jobs so much.

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Can you imagine stepping into the office, looking up, and seeing this in place of a computer screen every day? Whether it’s a beautiful sunset or an unobstructed view of the sea and land below, one thing’s for certain: it sure beats staring at a boring old screensaver!

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While most people would be tempted to catch some shut-eye and let autopilot take over, JPC would rather capture every stunning view, such as this dazzling runway. Can you imagine the pressure a pilot must feel when they are landing a plane full of people? Now that is some serious responsibility!

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During landing, JPC and his crew are allowed a magnificent overhead view of the city. In fact, they get to experience the most well-known cities from an entirely different perspective than the tourists and residents below.

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Here’s yet another angle that offers a view of the extremely complicated control panel that surrounds the crew on every flight. It’s interesting to note the juxtaposition between the complex technology inside the plane and the softly lit landscape outside of it.

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From an ordinary passenger’s seat in coach, it’s hard to imagine anything other than what’s in the cabin: a complimentary bag of chips and soda, the SkyMall catalog, and the snooze-worthy in-flight movie on the screen in front of you. JPC, on the other hand, has an entirely different perspective!

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This photograph was snapped as JPC and his crew prepared for their landing. The crew might have felt safe and secure since they were buckled in, but this just goes to show you what it’s really like when the plane is in full-tilt mode. It’s no wonder why they tell you to pay attention to the seat belt sign!

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If you didn’t know any better, this image could have been taken by an astronaut manning a spacecraft that was orbiting far above the Earth. The lights of the buildings and cars below simply become a blur as they soar full speed ahead.

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A lot of nervous fliers worry about all of the things that could potentially go wrong during a flight. Considering that lightning seen just outside this window, it’s easy to empathize with their concerns! While it’s certainly beautiful, it might be too close for comfort for some.

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This view, from a Boeing 747, makes it look like JPC is on a submarine traveling beneath the surface of the ocean and not soaring through a spectacularly blue night sky. What a remarkable sight to take in—even if it’s for only a few hours!

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Since JPC began taking pictures of his rare vantage point in the cockpit, his work has garnered lots of interest from people around the world. So much so that he recently just released his first published book of photos, entitled Cargopilot.

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It’s definitely easy to see the draw of his photography. It allows everyday people to experience the life of a pilot from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Though, after seeing these incredible images, they might be inspired to get their own pilot’s license and take to the skies themselves!

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It’s truly remarkable to experience what it’s like to fly a plane. Thanks to JPC’s breathtaking photos, now everyone can!

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