reply to post by onequestion
Actually, not 'odd' at all...
The traffic is always there, every day. (Yes, certain airlines operate different schedules based on the day of the week...but there are still a LOT
Difference is, on some days, the air is just too dry for contrails to form. (Or, for cirrus clouds to form, for that matter).
Airplanes are there, and you can prove this to yourself with the 'FlightAware' wesite I linked earlier. (I did do that, right? Sometimes I forget
where I have...)
Here it is again:
I again centered it on Santa Barbara Airport, for your reference.
Oh, and I guess I should explain the data blocks that accompany each airplane that is being tracked.
First, the airplanes shown in blue are departing or arriving the airport that the map is centered on, the 'reference' airport.
Green airpanes are just passing by, bound for different desitinations.
I picked two of those, at random that are NorthWest bound.
The data block for one is, at the moment I passed my mouse over it:
CKK 222 MD11
First, I can tell that is an international airline, because I'm unfamiliar with the airline code...the "CKK" (will look it up, shortly). It is a
McDonnel Douglas (now 'Boeing') MD-11.
The next line is altitude, and groundspeed. "223" means 22,300 feet. Obviously, that isn't a cruise altitude, so it must still be climbing, which
makes sense because below you see it departed Los Angeles ("KLAX").
"379" is, as I said, the groundspeed, in knots.
OK, looked up the airline code, it is "China Cargo Airlines". The destination, the "ZSPD" is for Shanghai Pudong, China.
Another I grabbed, it was about twenty miles in trail of the Chinese airplane, was this one:
SWA 271 B737
Much easier to decode...Southwest Airlines flihght 271, a Boeing 737.
Also still climbing, when I looked...at 29,400 feet, and groundspeed was 397 knots. Departed Los Angeles for San Jose.
You can also get info on specific flights, for instance, that Southwest:
Boeing 737-700 (twin-jet) (B737/Q)
Origin Los Angeles Intl
Destination San Jose Int'l
Route VTU5 RZS ROBIE2 (Decode)
I can decode that for you...the "VTU5" is the 'Ventura Five' departure procedure from Los Angeles.
"RZS' is the VOR named 'San Marcus'. That is the first navigational 'fix' on the flight plan route. On the VTU5 you can see the departure
description, tells pilots the procedure to follow. A 250 degree heading after takeoff, for radar vectors to the Ventura VOR (VTU) then (ass'd
transition or ass'd route). That would be the 'RZS transition'. This assumes the flight departed on runway 24L, since that's where most
Southwest flights depart from, when the airport is set up for the prevailing winds from the West, which is about 95% of the time.
The "ROBIE2" is an arrival procedure for San Jose:
See where it ties together neatly with the 'VTU5' departure procedure, at the 'RZS' VOR? So, after RZS they follow the route, as depicted, to the
'SNS' VOR, then make the slight right turn outbound on course 347 degrees to 'GILRO' intersection. (Years ago it was called 'Gilroy'...ALL
intersections are now only five letters long, for the computer database programming requirement, both the ATC computers, and the airplane's
From GILRO then pilots reference an Approach procedure, as appropriate and in use on that day and time. This si communicated beforehand, in several
Anyway, when I took the 'snapshot' of that flight, it had only been in the air for 29 minutes:
Date Friday, May 14, 2010
Duration 55 minutes
Progress 25 minutes left
By the time I've written all of this, it has already landed in San Jose.
Its planned final cruise altitude was 40,000 feet:
Status En Route (159 miles down; 153 miles to go)
Scheduled 7-day Average Actual/Estimated
Departure 11:58AM PDT 11:56AM PDT 11:51AM PDT
Arrival 12:51PM PDT 12:51PM PDT 12:46PM PDT
Speed 437 kts 403 kts
Altitude 40000 feet 40000 feet