Author Topic: Airplanes and Comets  (Read 1505 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Pete Bog

  • Supporting Member
  • Whetstone +
  • **
  • Posts: 355
Airplanes and Comets
« on: February 22, 2020, 09:24:52 PM »
    Ever since I was a little kid, I have always looked up at airplanes. Maybe living miles from the nearest neighbor had something to do with it. It was a tangible sign that there were other people in the world. Back then, sonic booms from the fighter aircraft doing air combat practice was exciting. Finding bundles of shredded tin foil in the fields was a treat. It was used to fool radar I guess.
     Now days I have flightradar24.com to actually identify who and what these aircraft actually are. Where they come from and where they are going. And - - -  I can actually call it up on a video screen I keep in my pocket! Amazing for someone that grew up listening to battery powered radios because there was no electricity to the farm.
     Over the past few years, there has been a steady stream of UPS, Fed-Ex  and assorted cargo aircraft flying from China to Louisville, Memphis and other ports in the lower 48. In the past few days, nothing. There are a few from Korea and other Asian countries, but nothing coming out of mainland China.
     About a week ago I watched an aircraft go over and man was it movin'! It was a passenger plane from San Fancisco to NYC and according to flightradar24, it was doing the boogie at a little over 700 MPH ground speed. I went to earth.nulschool.net and found he had a tailwind of about 150MPH.
     There is a comet inbound towards the Sun. It's out around Mars now but astronomers feel it is related to the 'Great Comet of 1844'. More than likely, it will amount to nothing but there is a small possibility it will be spectacular. Wait and see I guess.
     I keep track of spaceweather.com weekly, just to keep track of what's going on around us. I used to check it daily when the sunspots were more active but recently there has been very little activity. So little in fact that it is, in itself, a little concerning. A replay of the Maunder Minimum could delay the  onset of the global warming. At first glance, that might sound like a good thing, but I suspect humanities response will be to procrastinate an effective response and there by make the warming  problem even worse. Again, wait and see I guess. On second thought, I won't be around to see it. Give the grand kids a heads up and pray for the great grandchildren.
      There, the forum has been pretty quiet lately. A little food for discussion, maybe?
     

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 9870
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2020, 08:52:54 AM »
That is interesting.  I was at a gunshow in Wyoming yesterday day and one vendor of Asian optics and flashlights mentioned that he could get no more product shipped from China because, he thought, of the Corona Virus.

I was not aware of the sites you mention but will visit them and take a look.  Completely unaware of how you can identify a particular plane, where it is coming from, and where it is going, let alone how fast it is and why. 

I live in a rural area about 65 miles north of an airforce base where B1 bombers are stationed.  We see lots of them as they come and go on training missions mostly towards an area in SE Montana where there are a lot of electronic devices that simulate bombing targets and so forth.  Mixed in with these bombers are a few fighter planes although not many the last couple of years.  They go overhead fast and you always find them way ahead of the sound.  There is a feeling of pride that comes over you when you see one up close.  They usually get one to fly over the local rodeo on the fourth of July and the crowd always goes nuts.  You can see them coming but can't hear them until they are going away. 

Thirty years or so ago I hunted every year in SE Colorado for blue quail and pheasants.  There was a bombing range in use about thirty miles east of where we hunted.  It was routine to see B 52 bombers and a lot of fighter planes, usually F16's I think.  They would come over the canyons where we were hunting so low that we could see the pilots in the fighter planes.  One year we were in Kansas just across the border from the south east corner of Colorado and fifty miles from that bombing range.  On that day you could hear the carpet bombing practice runs as they rumbled across the prairie.  Must have been just perfect weather and wind to hear it that far away.

 
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline Pete Bog

  • Supporting Member
  • Whetstone +
  • **
  • Posts: 355
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2020, 10:47:16 AM »
The earth.nullschool.ne t site is a fun site but it takes time to learn how to use it. In the lower left of the screen, click on "EARTH". That will open up a selection of choices. To get the speed of the jetstream select  mode of "AIR" overlay of "wind" and then height is displayed as "hPa" (hectopascals). That's the air pressure above the ground. 250 hPa corresponds to about 34,000 feet. The ballpark neighborhood for commercial aircraft altitude.

Just poking around the page I found there is a lot of carbon monoxide coming out of the Washington D.C. area today. Don't know why, but that hit my funny bone. That was under 'mode' of "CHEM" and overlay of COsc (Carbon Monoxide surface concentration)

   Our girls were born into an aviation environment and listened to military aircraft day and night. After we left the Navy and moved to a rural area, we took them to a Fourth of July celebration that was going to feature a fighter jet flyover. The F4 Phantoms came in low and fast. Most people didn't know they were coming until the roar of the afterburners seemed to explode over the crowd. A few startled screams and lots of "Wows" were heard, but our two little girls were unfazed. If you know what your hearing, the turbine intake emits a weak, high pitched sound that you can detect two or three seconds before the aircraft appears. The girls were already looking in the direction of the F4's when they appeared over the trees. No surprise for them. Now that I'm 35 years older, I don't know if my hearing will still let me pick up the high pitched scream of an incoming turbine. But it sure was fun back then.

     Many years ago, the B-1B was stationed at the Grand Forks Air Force base. For practice, they would run imaginary bombing runs on randomly selected targets. One evening, after the sun had gone down, the wife was outside with her goats. At the time we had a large hip roofed barn. One of those barns with the big hayloft up top. A lone B-1B came in low from the West and as soon as it passed the farm, the afterburners kicked in and he started a steep climb. I wasn't home and didn't get to see it, but the wife said it was spectacular. She said you could feel the power of those engines in your chest as he thundered out of there. Since he would have been only a half mile or so away and the afterburners pointed right at her, I'm sure it was tremendous. She still smiles when she tells the story.

     the flightradar24.com site doesn't track military flights or little aircraft without transponders, but there are a lot of planes in the air. Google is experimenting with balloons and internet repeaters.  They were instrumental in getting Puerto Rico on line after the hurricanes a couple years ago. Now they are trying to provide services down in Brazil. They have an agreement with the Winnemucca, NV airport for launch facilities. I see one float over your neighborhood every once in a while. The balloons really get up there in altitude, 60,000 feet or better. Way above the commercial air traffic.
 

Offline Pete Bog

  • Supporting Member
  • Whetstone +
  • **
  • Posts: 355
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2020, 02:30:26 PM »
marinetraffic.com keeps track of shipping, similar to what flightradar24 does with aircraft. Right now, Vancouver, B.C. is plugged up because of the rail blockades in B.C. and Manitoba. No grain moving through the port, so that'll back up the farm exports.

It's possible to keep track of the railway movements too, but it's not very user friendly beyond what AMTRAK offers.

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 9870
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2020, 09:19:40 PM »
I will visit those sites when I have time. 

Mentioning the balloons made me think of the WWII Japanese explosive balloons that were launched in Japan up into the Jet Stream and about 300 of them made it all the way to the PNW and further.  Some made it into South Dakota and the link below says as far east as Michigan.  The local museum had a program on them a couple of years ago.

  https://www.history.com/news/attack-of-japans-killer-wwii-balloons-70-years-ago
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline Pete Bog

  • Supporting Member
  • Whetstone +
  • **
  • Posts: 355
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2020, 12:37:08 AM »
     It seems South Dakota has its own balloon history to be proud of. There's a balloon launch each September to commemorate the launch of a helium balloon back in 1935 with two souls on board. The Stratobowl Hot Air Launch just outside of Rapid City. They made it to 72,395 feet. That must have been a real accomplishment in 1935.   
     I think with enough advance notice and a few dollars, they'll take you along for a sunrise launched ride along. Sounds like fun, but - - - I don't get up that early. :)

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 9870
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2020, 08:39:56 AM »
They call the place where they launched the Strato Bowl.  It was quite a feat in the 1930's.  The bowl from which they launched was shielded from wind and that is what they were looking for.  Here is a link to a little information on the place and the balloon in case anyone else wants to know more about it.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratobowl
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline wolfy

  • Supporting Member
  • Belt Grinder
  • *****
  • Posts: 19071
  • "You want a toe? I can get you a toe." -Sobchak
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2020, 10:07:40 AM »
My dad took us to see the Stratobowl in 1959 on the first family vacation I ever remembered having.  It was the first trip for the 1959 Ford Galaxy which replaced the 1950 Ford flathead V8.....thanks for the memory! :)
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline Pete Bog

  • Supporting Member
  • Whetstone +
  • **
  • Posts: 355
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2020, 01:29:30 AM »
     Looking at the flightradar24.com site over the past week or so, I'm starting to see a few more Asia based cargo aircraft. But most are originating out of Taipei or Shanghai. Hong Kong and South Korea also account for many of them. I have only seen one from mainland China (Guagzhou). There have been no UPS or FEDEX aircraft at all. Normally there are 4 to 6 of each every evening.
     Marine traffic doesn't give origin or destination without paying for the views, but it seems obvious there are far more ships headed West across the Pacific than there are headed to the US West Coast ports.
      I suspect some China sourced goods are going to be in short supply soon. That'll put a kink in the "just in Time" material goods delivery that is part of many manufactures business plans. Should be a fun couple of months coming up.
     

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 9870
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2020, 12:23:27 PM »
I was looking for something the other night on Ebay and when I looked at a couple they both came from China.  When I checked the US only box the available number of items dropped to about 20% of the original number.  I passed on the Chinese order and will do so, although I have no real evidence the virus can travel in a package, just to be sure. 

I read that the cruise line industry is going to lose about 5 billion in revenue because of this.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline Pete Bog

  • Supporting Member
  • Whetstone +
  • **
  • Posts: 355
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2020, 02:24:23 AM »
flightradar24.com was different tonight. I counted about 150 aircraft from the US headed to Europe and 1 head the other way. And that was a FED-EX cargo plane.  I figure all the tourists are headed home or the East coast is emptying out. ;D  Most of the air traffic from southern California and Salt Lake City headed for Europe passes over my house too, but that's been pretty quiet for the past week or two also. About the only air traffic I get now is from Toronto to Western Canadian Cities and back. All that quiet is kinda nice.

Offline Pete Bog

  • Supporting Member
  • Whetstone +
  • **
  • Posts: 355
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2020, 10:41:35 PM »
A lot of cargo coming in from Asia. FedEx and UPS are back to flying more than ever. But there are additional carriers with multiple aircraft in the air. Some, like Kallita Air and Air China have always flown a few planes into the US, but they have stepped up their flights now. Some, like Asiana Cargo and Cathay Pacific are rarely seen. Southern Air, Nippon Cargo, Atlas air and Korean Air Cargo I don't ever recall seeing, but all these cargo planes are hauling something in, in quantity. Hopefully it's PPE for our health care workers.

The Air traffic between the US and Europe is almost shockingly light. In normal times, you could not reasonably count the number of aircraft in the air over the North Atlantic. Now, A couple dozen aircraft, and during the early morning hours, there must be a thousand miles between some aircraft. If your a dead in the water sailor hoping to signal an aircraft for help, good luck with that.

Speaking of signaling, how many of you have actually tried to mirror signal over a mile or more? Not as easy as they make it sound is it.

And flashlights for signaling either in a crowded arena or a populated area with many lights in the background. That stupid strobe function doesn't seem so stupid in those conditions. At least that's what I found when I actually tried it. The strobe function really makes you stand out. 

Atlas, the comet I talked about back in February, looks like it's a fizzle. Today, it's located directly South of the North Star, about half way between the Big Dipper and Cassiopea. It's moving to the SE and will be around until the end of May. It'll require a good set of binoculars or a spotting scope to see it and probably isn't worth the effort unless it really brightens. That's what is kind of neat about the comets. They are unpredictable. It could still blow up into a naked eye object, but as of now, it doesn't look likely. 

Offline xj35s

  • Water Stone
  • ***
  • Posts: 2168
  • If I go missing, carladerby at gmail for info.
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2020, 08:50:25 AM »
 I really appreciate your observations. I find it all very interesting. I was hoping to see something spectacular from this comet...

It's funny(or scary) how many youtubers are blowing it all out of proportion. If it's not the government, bigfoot, or biblical, it's astronomical.

I remember a rock went flying by very close at 2 am here in NY. It must have been 2000 or 2001. I had all the night shift employees come outside to look. It was dark but faintly lit by the moon. I was surprised how fast it went by, for how far away it was. We saw it with the naked eye too.
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 9870
Re: Airplanes and Comets
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2020, 09:12:14 AM »
Pete that is interesting about the increase in Asian traffic.  I wrote a little bit of a rant about doing business with China after this virus event but removed it because political rants should be in the private discussion area. 

So I will just say it is disappointing.   
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)