National Geographic : 1964 Dec
THE OTHER SIDE King Hussein shows a GEOGRAPHIC writer his fast-changing HE STACCATO CLATTER of the rotor blades beat louder as we banked into the wind. The helicopter seemed to hang transfixed in the clear highland air, trembling slightly, like a poised dragonfly. The noble curves of the Dome of the Rock, jewel of Jerusalem, filled the right-hand window. I raised my camera and spoke into the micro phone that nearly touched my lips. "Sir, can we move off to the left?" King Hussein, ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, held the vibrating control column of the helicopter steady and replied, with an ironic smile, "That's Israel on both sides; if we do, they may open fire on us." His Majesty changed the pitch of the rotor blades; we soared up and away, and the dome dwindled and shrank below us. The crenelated walls of the Old City and the ancient olive trees of the Garden of Gethsemane moved beneath us. Altimeter Registers 1,100 Feet-Minus We passed low over Bethany and the new road that dipped in switchback loops down to the Dead Sea. As we flew in a shallow descent, the needle of the altimeter made turn after turn. When it read "0," we were still more than a thousand feet above the jade-green River Jordan, which writhed on the alkali-white valley below us. At the river's mouth, where it fanned out into the Dead Sea, we hovered, and the altimeter indicated 1,100 feet below sea level. We hung a scant 200 feet above the lowest place on the face of the earth (page 794). As we straightened away for the climb over the brown hills to the capital city of Amman, His Majesty pointed to the oil-pressure gauge. The pointer quivered and swung erratically. Ten minutes later we were over the hills spotted with olive and fruit trees and grazing sheep and goats, clattering along barely fifty feet above the ground. The oil-pressure needle swung even more Golden Dome of the Rock, covering a spot in Arab Jerusalem sacred to Moslem, Jew, and Chris tian, shines beneath King Hussein's helicopter. The author, invited by His Majesty, also visited the less-familiar desert country beyond the Jordan River, a stony plateau inhabited by nomads. 790 KODACHROMEC N.G.S .