reply to post by TeslaandLyne
Second reply to Tesla, re: your second sentence "Flight directors or vectors"
Errrrr.....to a pilot, at least an Airline Pilot, a 'Flight Director' has a certain meaning. It is an Instrument, something to assist a pilot
during IFR (instrument only) flight. A 'vector' is simply a heading assigned by an air traffic controller. THEY call it a vector, since they
think of it as a track over the ground. They can impute, in their heads, the known winds and assign a heading to accomplish what they wish, which is
to maintain certain separation standards between airplanes.
SO, from the ATC viewpoint, a 'vector' is to determine a certain track over the ground. Of course, with modern GPS capabilities, airplanes can
very, very accurately fly determined tracks over the ground, but as yet the airplanes don't talk to each other enough (except for TCAS) to allow for
the spacing and routing decisions to be made, especially in the Terminal areas.
Also, the airspace IS three-dimensional....a concept that is often lost on people who spend their lives stuck in traffic on the FreeWay.
ATC know that we now have, as I mentioned, TCAS onboard....that is an acronym for 'Traffic Collision Avoidance System'....but, it only works IF the
other airplane has a compliant transponder, so that they 'talk' to each other.
In the case of 'cactus' 564, what they saw was not anything that is normaly seen...AND, it was well before the wide-spread implementation of TCAS
anyway....I just threw that in for an update to what we have today.
The other thing to remember is, then, and now, upper-level radar accuracy is not nearly as precise as lower-level...in layman's terms, think of a
flashlight (or torch, if you're British). Turn on the flashlight, and put your hand 12 inches away. Look at how wide the beam is. THEN, shine the
'torch' at a wall 12 feet away. Notice the width of the beam then.
THIS is the nature of light, unless it's lasered....but I guarantee that RADAR is simply a spectrum of the EM range, (not laser) that suffers a
similar dispersion as visible light.
So, essentially, RADAR is most effective, and most accurate, at the closest ranges.
Of course, in Military applications, RADAR can be more precise, but those things are left to the Military, since they are secret.
I have been able to use my airplane's weather radar to 'paint' another airplane, but only for a few minutes, since airliner's radar is designed to
look for water concentrations....and, it can 'paint' land, when you are out over the ocean...
Of course, in the case of AW (cactus) 564, if the thing they saw was at 3 o'clock, well....the radar antenna is in the nose, and only sweeps about 15
degrees per side...depending on the brand. MAX would be about 18 degrees, for a total of 36....and THAT'S pushing it!
So, this incident relies on the tapes, as saved from ATC, and eyewitness accounts. ANY RADAR contacts from Military sources are sure to be buried
deep, so deep a FOIA request may never reach them.....