Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When You Can See Forever...

For each of the past two days, I've flown out to southern California and back...and both trips have been the kind you dream about: crystal clear weather with no bumps! The visibility was well over 200 miles. The Rockies have snow to what looks like about the 9000-foot level. Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park were spectacular (although not as spectacular as from a car on the road above the tree-line). We tracked the Colorado River all the way through Lake Powell to the Grand Canyon which was...well...grand! From there through Lake Mead and down the Arizona/California border by Lake Havasu City (Why does anyone live there? Aside from the lake, it's desolate...and 115 degrees in the shade in the summer!).

As we were flying along, we also encountered a lot of other airplanes. I once read that at any given time, there are approximately 60,000 people in the air over the United States! That's a small city! Anyway, these planes occasionally meet us head-on...but at a vertical distance of 1000 feet. But at closure rates of 1000 mph, 1000 feet isn't much! So how does that work? How do we keep from getting too close to another plane? Basically it involves that vertical separation. Planes flying 360 degrees (north) through 179 degrees (1 degree from south) fly at odd altitudes. Planes flying from south (180 degrees) through 359 degrees (1 degree from north) fly at even altitudes. Yes, there are some tricky ones where you are flying north or south, but the controllers take care of that.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Hey Charley, I figured out how to post a comment! Amazing, huh? Great blog, looking forward to reading about your adventures. Like I said in my email, "I went flying yesterday too, but stayed below 4000 feet, under 120 knots, and didn't make any money - not quite as exciting!!"