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Cool Aircraft... What Could it Be? (Chicago 4:50 am)

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posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:10 AM
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About 15 minutes ago I was out on my balcony. I'm in Chicago, and I have a pretty nice view of open sky and the Sears Tower.

Anyway. I've been seeing all sorts of interesting planes, a few satellites, and a couple of mystery objects... one of which I should post about soon. Pretty amazing, considering the light pollution I have to contend with in Metropolis.

So. I'm facing north. The Sears Tower is in front of me, at about my 11 o'clock. I noticed lights of an aircraft coming from the west and heading east. As it came towards me, I realized it was of a sort I'd never seen before. I'm kicking myself for not getting footage, but I was so busy trying to figure out what it was that it didn't occur to me to go in and grab my camera. It had strobes on the back end, two or three. It had one or two red lights, and it had white beacons in the front - it looked like a row of three or something? It was quite large, and I tried to make out the shape of the wings and body, but it wasn't standing out enough from the dark sky. It was still heading west, and when it was almost above me, it banked and began to head north. It flew directly over the Sears Tower. It seemed as if it just barely cleared the tower's antennas, but I'm sure that was just an optical illusion. Then it banked heading west, and simultaneously lowered altitude until it disappeared from my view. At that point, I was thinking, DRAT! Wish I had tried to take some pics!

The lights were definitely the first thing to stand out to me, but what really struck me was the fact that it was nearly silent. The flight path was unlike any other I have seen in the area either. I certainly have never seen a plane go directly over the Sears Tower.

I performed a cursory search on the interweb and read another post here on ATS, but I couldn't find any pertinent information. Anyone have an idea? I assume it's some sort of military craft. I'm not well versed in that department, and for whatever reason, I assumed that military craft would not have extensive lighting? Would love to hear your thoughts... Thanks!

ETA: It also seemed like it was... cruisin. Appeared to be pretty slow moving and also seemed fairly low in the sky
edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: (no reason given)

Also... It seemed to move slowly, but at the same time seemed to get from point A to B rather quickly... ?
edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: more info




posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:15 AM
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reply to post by HolographicPrincipal
 


Yeah, without pics this is a difficult task.

Speculation will be the order of the day, but the fact is, no pics = no conclusion.

Hell, even with pics there is sometimes no conclusion, lol

vvv



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:22 AM
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reply to post by VreemdeVlieendeVoorwep
 

True, true.
Bring on the speculation! At the very least, I could glean a few possibilities and perhaps learn something in the process. Nothing ventured...


(This is the second time I've missed photographing or taping an anomaly, even though I usually have my camera at my side. Won't happen again!)



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:28 AM
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reply to post by HolographicPrincipal
 


If it flew over the Sears tower, there is bound to have been other people seeing this, and there is bound to be some footage out there somewhere, best is to hope that surfaces somewhere, so we can have a look at this "mystery" aircraft.

vvv



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:30 AM
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reply to post by HolographicPrincipal
 




It was a commercial flight in the landing pattern for runway 28 at O'hare Intl., perhaps a B747 or Airbus380 by the size description

I'm looking through the flight aware logs to see what has landed in the last 30-60 minutes and will post a photo of the possible identity when I find out.

Fair enough?



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:43 AM
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reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 

Ah, sweet! Very industrious. I excitedly await the results.


I didn't realize you could access that information. Do planes fly over the Sears Tower often and/or is that runway used frequently? I've seen flights bank on the west side of it, but never directly over it...
edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: corrections



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:43 AM
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reply to post by VreemdeVlieendeVoorwep
 


According to FlightAware the largest arrivals have been two B-777 near the top of the last hour.

UAL237 at 4:46AM CDT



and

AAL293 at 5:07AM CDT



Take your pick.



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:47 AM
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Could it be that what you saw was Direct TV Blimp which has been operating in the skies over Chicago .
jeremykissel.posterous.com...

edit on 18-8-2011 by gortex because: edit to add video



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:48 AM
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reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 

Awesome... I'm looking at the link you provided right now. Since I am plane model challenged, it appears the United flight is a much larger plane?

It was certainly bulky... or so it seemed. What would account for it's virtual silence? Do flights in that particular pattern usually fly at such a low altitude? Is it just an illusion that it appeared to be "gliding" slowly because of it's altitude?

Sorry for the barrage of questions. Curious mind. I really appreciate the info!



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:49 AM
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Originally posted by HolographicPrincipal
reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 

Ah, sweet! Very industrious. I excitedly await the results.


I didn't realize you could access that information. Do planes fly over the Sears Tower often and/or is that runway used frequently? I've seen flights bank on the west side of it, but never directly over it...
edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: corrections


Click this link.... KORD

It will take you to an aeronautical chart of the area with the current (-15 minutes) air-traffic superimposed over the top.

Enjoy.



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:50 AM
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Originally posted by gortex
Could it be that what you saw was Direct TV Blimp which has been operating in the skies over Chicago .
jeremykissel.posterous.com...


Ha! I have a picture of that, and some other name brand blimp that floats around occasionally. Definitely not the same shape, although i can say it almost seemed to float like one.



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:52 AM
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Not too long ago me n my friends saw what at first was a low flying commercial plane but as it came nearer above us i remember realising i couldnt make out the body to this airplane it had far too many lights vertically and none on the wings, it didnt sound like a normal plane neither, and right as i realise this one friend says " What the F... is that??" other friend says "wow thats going too fast" all at the same time. My experience matches yours perfectly. and the airport in my city was on the other side of where we were there was no way it was trying to land already. But who knows.

ETA: the aircraft i saw looked much much longer with either multipl or smaller sharper wings
edit on 18-8-2011 by Amassuo because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 05:58 AM
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The Chicago air show starts Saturday. You'll see all sorts of aircraft today and tomorrow practicing.



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 06:01 AM
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reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 

I will definitely be using those resources from now on. Thank you for that. You are correct about those two flights being the available possibilities... However, both flights approach from the north of O'Hare and circle back to the south of that path.

I am south of the Sears Tower... South Loop area. The aircraft came from the west heading east, closer to me in the sky than the tower, then banked north, passed over the tower, and almost immediately banked back heading west while decreasing altitude rather quickly. Hmmmmm.

ETA: As far as any other flights on the flight tracker, nothing is showing up that would follow the exact path I saw... not even anything close?

I am indeed aware of the air show. That's the first thing that came to mind when I couldn't figure out what this was. However, I thought all of those planes originate in Gary, IN, coming from the east. It's definitely a possibility, though. Usually a practice run begins on Friday, although I believe there have been times when practice has occurred on that Thursday (which would be today, of course). If it's an air show craft, that definitely limits the types. But I'm still intrigued by the flight path and it's silence (not to mention it's size).
edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: more info

Further editing: I was just thinking... am I correct to assume that in these "post 9/11" days that flying close to tall buildings is unadvisable? Am I also correct to assume that flight paths are strictly adhered to? Is it possible that a flight could be in a holding pattern and the pilot decides to take a little joy ride over the Sears tower for a scenic view?

edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 06:47 AM
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Originally posted by HolographicPrincipal
reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 

Awesome... I'm looking at the link you provided right now. Since I am plane model challenged, it appears the United flight is a much larger plane?

It was certainly bulky... or so it seemed. What would account for it's virtual silence? Do flights in that particular pattern usually fly at such a low altitude? Is it just an illusion that it appeared to be "gliding" slowly because of it's altitude?

Sorry for the barrage of questions. Curious mind. I really appreciate the info!



They are both the same type and size of aircraft, the only difference is the paint scheme.

The Boeing-777 is a long-range widebody aircraft that is nearly twice the size of the domestic Boeing 757 and Airbus A320 types that make up the majority of airtraffic you see at any given time.

They are all flying within a similar range of speed (160 MPH =/-) but the larger jet appears to move slower than the smaller aircraft. Some of the larger military transports seem to hang motionless for minutes at a time when viewed on final, its a common illusion.

When aircraft are descending they use lower/quieter power settings as well as The B-777 uses a type of engine that is much quieter by design than previous generations called a High-bypass turbofan. Believe it or not, a lot of engineering and planning goes into jet noise abatement so it would be a sign of something more unusual to hear the aircraft roaring and crackling through the air ( if you haven't before check out theBlue Angels or Thunderbirds aerial demonstration teams some time, loud like you didnt think possible)

I am more than happy to answer any aviation questions I can for you, its no bother (and a welcome respite from bad physics and hokey aliens ).



Originally posted by HolographicPrincipal
reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 

... However, both flights approach from the north of O'Hare and circle back to the south of that path.

I am south of the Sears Tower... South Loop area. The aircraft came from the west heading east, closer to me in the sky than the tower, then banked north, passed over the tower, and almost immediately banked back heading west while decreasing altitude rather quickly. Hmmmmm.
You are correct, Flightaware shows both coming down from the north over the lake. Those two were just a guess as they were the heaviest arrival flights around the time mentioned. Perhaps it was a different jet?


ETA: As far as any other flights on the flight tracker, nothing is showing up that would follow the exact path I saw... not even anything close?



Check again on the Aeronautical chart at this link I see over a dozen aircraft on approach... KORD Sectionalthere is a very busy approach from the east-west turning north for the downwind and back to west on final as shown here...EGF4114


I'll look for any news on big aircraft at airshows in your area but this would be a bit early for a weekend event and I can guarantee from your description of the flight path what you saw was a commercial inbound for runway 28 at O'hare Intl, that airspace is very structured and regulated (military included)



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 07:11 AM
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Originally posted by HolographicPrincipal
reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 

I am indeed aware of the air show. That's the first thing that came to mind when I couldn't figure out what this was. However, I thought all of those planes originate in Gary, IN, coming from the east. It's definitely a possibility, though. Usually a practice run begins on Friday, although I believe there have been times when practice has occurred on that Thursday (which would be today, of course). If it's an air show craft, that definitely limits the types. But I'm still intrigued by the flight path and it's silence (not to mention it's size).
edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: more info

Further editing: I was just thinking... am I correct to assume that in these "post 9/11" days that flying close to tall buildings is unadvisable? Am I also correct to assume that flight paths are strictly adhered to? Is it possible that a flight could be in a holding pattern and the pilot decides to take a little joy ride over the Sears tower for a scenic view?


Wow, lucky you with the airshow in town (which is coincidently featuring the USAF thunderbirds :cool


The bits I was reading describe it as an aerial demonstration only, no static ground displays and the aircraft are based out of Gary International Airport well to your south. Fri/sat/sun you'll have a sky full of F-16's and maybe a Harrier according to your local news but nothing anywhere near the size of the commercials.

Again, the approach you described was clearly O'hare Intl. not Gary Intl. 20 miles to the south and the approach would be well out of sight from downtown Chicago. The Thunderbirds do use a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III to transport parts and maintenance personnel which looks like this...



I would also make note that the B-777 is nearly 100 ft longer and 100 ft. wider in span than the C-17, 777 is a BIG aircraft.



edit on 18-8-2011 by Drunkenparrot because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 08:45 AM
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reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 

The air show is always guaranteed fun.... it's awesome if you get a spot right along the lake, but equally as exciting if you are along their practice paths on the Friday before. It feels like the city is under attack.

The blue angels will not be a part of the show this year, but I have seen them numerous times.

The 777 seems most likely. This thing was a flying tank, so it must be enormous! Very interesting about the quieter engine upon descent and the illusion of bigger craft appearing to move slowly. I've spent some time near runways (recreationally), seen and heard a plethora of planes over the years, but curiously enough, I've never witnessed the behavior this one exhibited.

I'm attaching my very rudimentary, if not primitive, diagrams of the flight path as I witnessed it. The second map is just a zoom out to show the relationship between the path I viewed and O'Hare...






posted on Aug, 18 2011 @ 04:37 PM
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Since we got on the topic of the air show, I figured I'd share a quick capture of the thunderbirds zipping around. Apologies for the crap handling... at the beginning you can see one flying towards the Sears Tower. But I cut away to try to capture two other thunderbirds that pop up to the left of the first one. I barely caught them, since I couldn't see them in my viewfinder. Had I a better zoom, the results would have been much better. I'll chalk this one up to practice for the real deal



edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: fix video link


ETA: You'll definitely need to view this full screen if you want to see the blurs a little better.

Watch the far left side of the screen at 9 seconds and you can see the smoke puff trail
edit on 8/18/2011 by HolographicPrincipal because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 20 2011 @ 12:06 PM
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In my continued quest to find more information regarding flight paths in Chicago, I stumbled upon this article. I wonder why, when the airspace is completely devoid of other aircrafts, would a flight choose a route that is directly above the tallest building? Then again, I am not schooled in the method of flight path selection and adherence. At least I can see now that this is not a one-off occurrence....


A large commercial airplane flies low and slow over Willis Tower, causing curiosity and sudden fear among the crowd of people walking on downtown streets. Did the pilot veer off course? Or was the flight path intentional? With the public's nerves frayed over homeland security concerns, the sight of the plane would surely bring to mind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, as well as recent attempts by terrorists to place explosives aboard passenger and cargo planes.


Chicago Tribune Article



posted on Aug, 21 2011 @ 12:13 AM
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Originally posted by HolographicPrincipal
I wonder why, when the airspace is completely devoid of other aircrafts, would a flight choose a route that is directly above the tallest building? Then again, I am not schooled in the method of flight path selection and adherence. At least I can see now that this is not a one-off occurrence....


According to wiki, O'Hare International Airport was originally built as a factory airfield during WWII with the site chosen for its proximity to the city, heavy traffic over congested area's would not have been a consideration at that time.
O'hare didn't start receiving heavy commercial jets in volume untill the early 1960's, by which time both the airfield and downtown Chicago were well established.

For a better explanation you need to understand that all long distance aircraft traffic is directed along predefined pathways called Victor routes.


The victor airways are something like the interstate highway system, except that the airways are above the ground and you can't actually see them—they're a system of established routes that run along specified VOR radials, from one VOR station to another. They therefore make flight planning easier, and they help Air Traffic Control to organize and regulate the traffic flow.
Flying the Victor Airways

Local approach paths are dictated by terrain and prevailing wind direction (which also dictates runway alignment) however the pattern is usually a left or right based versions of the same standard.

Here are a couple of diagrams that may help you understand the reasoning....


Airport Traffic Pattern


O'Hare



Click picture to enlarge...Skyvector/KORD

Everything on the sectional chart including airways, departure and arrival routes are explained below...

Pilotfriend flight training/ reading a sectional chart

VFR Charts

Thanks for posting the Thunderbird video, watching a high performance military jet buzz a city skyline with a big,black skyscraper makes me homesick for Seattle's Seafair weekend and the Blue Angels.

Hope this explanation helps.



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