About the Series

Explore a midair metropolis of a million people on flights that crisscross the world.

At any one time, there are a million people airborne somewhere in the world. That equates to an entire airborne city — a city in the sky. This is a metropolis unlike any other: it is a city that straddles not just countries but whole continents. The fabric of this extraordinary constructions is made up of the 100,000 flights that crisscross the world every single day.

So what does it take to run this ‘city’ at 30,000 feet? In this new series, we set off around the world to uncover the invisible global networks and complex logistics that make it all possible. We meet the hidden army of experts working to keep the city aloft, and discover the extraordinary engineering and technology that makes it tick.

The city in the sky is set to double in size over the next two decades, and keeping it airborne is testing our ingenuity to its absolute limits. Yet despite its extraordinary rate of growth, air travel is now safer than ever before, and the series will explore how this achievement is sustained.

The series follows the arc of an actual journey: episode one, Departure, focuses on how aircraft are prepared for take-off; episode two examines what happens during flight, and episode three, Arrival, looks at what it takes to bring flights safely back down to earth.

In order to gain real insights into the nature of the global aviation network, we travel to some of its most extreme, busiest or far flung outposts. From the coldest airport in the world at Yakutsk, to the busiest (Atlanta) and the airport that is one of the most dangerous at which to land (Paro, in the Himalayas). At all of these places and more, the series meets the men and women who keep the planes in the sky.

Across the series, we uncover a fascinating world that has transformed the way we live in the 21st century. Our modern way of life would simply not be possible without the city in the sky.

More About the Series

About Ep. 1 | Departure

About Ep. 1 | Departure

What does it take to get 100,000 flights a day ready for take-off and up into the sky?

About Ep. 2 | Airborne

About Ep. 2 | Airborne

We take it for granted, but on any journey a hidden army of people keep your plane safe.

About Ep. 3 | Arrival

About Ep. 3 | Arrival

Getting on the ground safely takes an army of hidden experts and incredible technology.

Streaming on:

Your purchase supports PBS and helps make our programming possible.

| City in the Sky
Choose Station
When to watch

City in the Sky

Local Station:

Choose Station

Support your local PBS station

PBS Video App

Stream the best of PBS.
Anytime, anywhere.

television laptop tablet phone
Download the Free App