Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Light, XXXIX: Flyover

Roxbury, Connecticut

Yesterday afternoon I'd stopped at a familiar spot, one of several vantage points at Toplands Farm that I've used many times. There was an interesting sky and I wanted to try some 16:9 format shots with it backing up the field and wonderful stark trees at the crest of the drumlin. But I heard a strange sound, and finally looking directly overhead found a large jet leaving a dense contrail. There's nothing unusual about large jets flying over, we're under standard routes for the New York regional airports and Bradley International, but there was something a bit off about the sound. In the clear air you could see the body of the jet, a gap, and then the condensing trail.

detail


After making several shots I turned back to find the original framing I'd intended to try, expecting the contrail to come into play. I made a number of shots with slight variation of framing, but sensed through the viewfinder that something was funny about the contrail.


When I lowered the camera and looked at the scene again, I realized I couldn't see the plane. It had, in effect, disappeared, and the contrail was much broken up. Later when I could look at the pictures on screen, this was easy to confirm.

detail


The exif data tells me the two shots were made 37 seconds apart. The vapor trail I would guess ended from hitting a change in atmospheric conditions, but what happened to the plane? I can only guess that it traveled far enough to pass behind and be hidden by the fairly dense cloud, but that really seems too far away, and the aim also doesn't seem right. Maybe a substantial course change would account for both. BTW, I'm not trying to start a thread about space aliens, just wondering what set of atmospheric conditions might result in non-standard sound from the plane and the strange disappearing act.

3 comments:

Edd Fuller said...

Carl, I have not clue about the plane except to say that winter light can be tricky. It looks like an X might have disappeared from your post title as well.

I like the 16:9 shot, particularly the shadows across the foreground.

Steve said...

Carl, You may have observed a military cargo jet with four large engines that do put out a dense contrail compared to commercial airliners. They also do not seem to have the same noise restrictions.

If it hit a pocket of dry air at altitude the trail would stop. Without the trail a plane is hard to spot if one hasn't kept a visual on it. During summer here in the southwest desert we often hear them but never see them.

Carl said...

Thanks, Edd. Steve, that sounds plausible.