IN THE PASSING LANE
The hi-ways of our national air transportation system, are fairly busy any day of the year. The jet routes, or roads, that pilots fly on, have multiple levels that are separated by one thousand feet. These jet routes start at 18,000 feet and go up to over 40,000 feet. Airplanes flying to the east, fly at odd altitudes and airplanes flying west, fly at even altitudes. Aircraft going in one direction are separated 2000 feet apart. Traffic going in the opposite direction is layered in between these aircraft 2000 feet apart. What you end up with are airplanes going 500 mph, flying in opposite directions, only 1000 feet apart. That's close!
In the cockpit, it ends up as a fun event to watch, over and over again, as you fly along the jet routes. Modern airliners are easily capable of maintaining this separation. All commercial aircraft have electronic devices that allow us to see the location and the altitude of aircraft around us, day or night, good weather, or bad. Sometimes, like today, you slowly catch up and pass a jet going in the same direction, 2000 feet above or below you. The video I attached was taken as we were overtaking a jet on our way from LAX to JFK, somewhere east of Albuquerque. The aircraft was 2000 feet below us. I did use the optical zoom on my camera to capture the exhaust trails from the engines.
The video is close to what we observe. Youtube has a good video depicting a 24 hour moving graphic of air traffic in the U.S. at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E_Z_Ve-ayA.
I would like to direct anyone interested to my good buddy and pilot Joe, who maintains the podcast "Fly With Me."
He is strarting a live podcast that starts next week. Should be pretty entertaining. The following is the email he sent to me,
"The first Fly With Me Live broadcast will be Sunday, Feb 21 at 1:00 PM PST. It will be on Ustream.tv (link below). I hope you can join us. My guest will be "Betty" from the "Betty in the Sky With a Suitcase" podcast -- she'll appear via Skype video. And she's hilarious.
I will be encouraging viewers to call in via Skype to join in the conversation with us -- so make sure your Skype setup is ready! The call-in Skype address is "fwm_live".
If you don't want to call in, there will be chat via Ustream chat and the "social stream"(Twitter, Facebook, etc.). You can ask us questions about anything you want. And then we can just say whatever we want in return ;-) I hope you can participate, because this will be a lot of fun.
Also, let your friends know about the show -- I'm sure they'll enjoy it. You can just forward this email -- here's the link to the show: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/fly-with-me-live
Hope to see you there,