Cleared to Land
October 26, 2012 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Heathrow Approach Planes lining up on approach to London Heathrow at 17x speed. Strangely hypnotic slyt.
posted by jontyjago (57 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Neat. And almost cartoonishly wobbly. Are they puppets?!
posted by entropone at 9:48 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice...as a kid I spent entire Saturdays at Heathrow watching planes line up like that, one after the other without any break. We'd see them come in, log them and cross them out of our World Airline Fleets 1979 book.

Just as mesmerizing now as it was then.
posted by salishsea at 9:51 AM on October 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I was prepared for the inclusion of an Ed Wood-esque flying saucer on noticeable strings.
posted by elizardbits at 9:51 AM on October 26, 2012


entropone: Neat. And almost cartoonishly wobbly. Are they puppets?!

I think they are being piloted by Scott Tracy.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:52 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neat. And almost cartoonishly wobbly. Are they puppets?!

They're non-Euclidean.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:54 AM on October 26, 2012


This is hauntingly beautiful. The airplanes looked so fragile and toylike.
posted by Kattullus at 9:55 AM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks for this post. Now I'm very annoyed. I was planning the same shoot, different airport.
posted by Goofyy at 9:57 AM on October 26, 2012


If you want to do this in Chicago, go to Montrose Beach or the Ravenswood Metra platform, which have a clear view east of all the planes coming in to land at Runway 28 at O'Hare. On one clear night I was able to see about a dozen headlights at any given moment.
posted by theodolite at 9:58 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Neat. And almost cartoonishly wobbly. Are they puppets?

Sped up, it seems that way. They're banking to keep on the localizer as they approach the runway -- winds cause them to drift off, so they correct. The nodding is part of keeping on the glideslope.

LHR normally lands one runway unless traffic demands it. It looks like this is flying to the east late afternoon. There are four holding points around Heathrow that you fly to first -- Bovington (BVN) to the NW, Lamborne (LAM) to the NE, Ockham, (OCK) to the SW and Biggin (BIG) to the SE. Generally, you fly to one of the hold points and enter the stack at the top. LHR Approach pulls planes off the bottom of the stack into the landing sequence. If I'm right about the direction, the planes coming from the right of the frame are mostly from Bovington and some from Lamborne, and the planes on the left side are coming from Ockham and Biggin.
posted by eriko at 9:58 AM on October 26, 2012 [19 favorites]


Thanks for this post. Now I'm very annoyed. I was planning the same shoot, different airport.

Do it on a day with a significant crosswind, and watch all the planes fly sideways.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:00 AM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Queueing, not lining up.
posted by Kabanos at 10:01 AM on October 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


One of my favorite things to do is to go to Castle Island in S. Boston during a nice summer evening and watch the planes approaching Logan. If they're landing the right way you can see the planes lining up for miles.
posted by bondcliff at 10:10 AM on October 26, 2012


Not-enough-coffee me: "Why does the camera keep panning to the left?"
posted by vverse23 at 10:18 AM on October 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Gorgeous. Wish I'd thought of it.

I like arriving in Heathrow via the route that takes you over Parliament/over the river from the east heading westbound. Thinking about the air battles that took place RIGHT THERE during the Battle of Britain is enough to keep my tint mind amused during the all electronics off phase of the flight. I find it remarkable to share the exact same view as would have been seen by German bomber crews sixty years ago, minus the big pickle-y dildo thing.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:21 AM on October 26, 2012


When the planes come out of the east, landing at Heathrow, the view from the park in Windsor is fantastic. I've seen a beautiful long-exposure of that, and watched it IRL, having lived in Windsor.
posted by Goofyy at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2012


Not-enough-coffee me: "Why does the camera keep panning to the left?"
posted by vverse23 at 10:18 AM on October 26 [+] [!]


It's the clouds moving, not the camera. I was able to work this out because I've already had coffee.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


One thing I really enjoyed as a kid was living right under an LAX approach -- we were about 15 or so miles east of LAX, so the planes were still fairly high, but low enough that we could go out on a clear night and see a dozen or more headlights lined up all the way to the eastern horizon.

Our house was also within 100 yards of the I-5. Traffic and airplane noise -- though usually not very loud -- was a constant companion when I was growing up (in a good way -- I still love highways and airplanes).
posted by chimaera at 10:23 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


When they were decommissioning the Concords, I got to see 2 coming in at once, to Heathrow, in my own back yard. Years earlier, I had lived in Long Beach, Long Island, and used to watch the Concord coming in at that end.
posted by Goofyy at 10:32 AM on October 26, 2012


there's always the douche that cuts in line right before the merge, and the ones that forget to turn off their brights.
posted by special-k at 10:42 AM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Kabanos: "Queueing, not lining up."

ok question. This word you just used, can you tell me how it is pronounced? Is it Kee-ing, Kew-ing, Kwee-ing, or Kew-eee-ing?
posted by rebent at 10:43 AM on October 26, 2012


They look like bugs.

bondcliff: "One of my favorite things to do is to go to Castle Island in S. Boston during a nice summer evening and watch the planes approaching Logan. If they're landing the right way you can see the planes lining up for miles."

Sometimes on a nice summer day and we're playing outside, I can sit on my back deck in Salem and planespot all afternoon. Somehow it irritates my wife that I look at the livery as closely as I can.
posted by mkb at 10:44 AM on October 26, 2012


rebent: "Kabanos: "Queueing, not lining up."

ok question. This word you just used, can you tell me how it is pronounced? Is it Kee-ing, Kew-ing, Kwee-ing, or Kew-eee-ing?
"

Q-ing. (or kyu-ing). Although pigs likely Kwee and Kew-ee when queuing.
posted by mkb at 10:45 AM on October 26, 2012


I've always wanted to take photos of planes landing at JFK but thought I'd get arrested/Gitmo'd. I'll live vicariously though this video.
When they were decommissioning the Concords, I got to see 2 coming in at once, to Heathrow, in my own back yard. Years earlier, I had lived in Long Beach, Long Island, and used to watch the Concord coming in at that end.
posted by Goofyy at 1:32 PM on October 26 [+] [!]
Oh man, I live there now, I'm sad I never got to see that!
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:48 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neat. And almost cartoonishly wobbly.

They pull into line real smoothly. That wobbly approach is probably just testing servo control.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:49 AM on October 26, 2012


Queueing, not lining up

They've been queueing for a while; what we're watching them do here is line up. At least, in my dialect.
posted by hattifattener at 10:52 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been playing too much Borderlands 2 - those look unnervingly like Rakk, and I instinctively reach for my Inflammatory Aegis.
posted by sidereal at 10:52 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Queueing, not lining up.

I assume this is a reference to the fact the planes are in England, not the US. I'm English so would use the word queue when appropriate, but I believe that in aviation parlance planes "line up" to take off and land, regardless of where they are.
posted by jontyjago at 10:53 AM on October 26, 2012


Aliens would probably find it difficult to distinguish us from any of the various kinds of insect colonies.
posted by cmoj at 10:53 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks! I've always wondered what it was like to live in Hounslow.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:53 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right, jontyjago. But even in UK english, wouldn't the planes in the rest of the holding pattern be said to be in the queue? What we're watching them do here is only part of the queue— the part at the end, where they literally form up into a straight line, and align themselves with the runway.
posted by hattifattener at 11:00 AM on October 26, 2012


If you want to do this in Chicago

I've also seen (what I assume is) that same line of planes while driving down Foster eastbound after dark. It's very peaceful, for some reason.
posted by lholladay at 11:13 AM on October 26, 2012


I don't know if this is the same place, but I had an amazing and frightening time walking underneath the planes as they were coming in to land at Heathrow once (detailed here). This video is really cool, but nothing matches plane after plane literally just a few hundred feet over your head and descending. It was really wild.
posted by m0nm0n at 11:23 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to live in Teddington and from the landing window could see 8-11 planes in the figure of 8 stack. When Concorde went over you couldn't hear a thing.
posted by marienbad at 11:23 AM on October 26, 2012


Here's a time lapse video of a bunch of stuff in San Diego, but with a few seconds of footage of planes coming into the airport at night - one short part starts around 3:40, another slightly longer segment around 4:00, with some Mardi Gras stuff in between.
posted by LionIndex at 11:25 AM on October 26, 2012


Living and working under a couple of the London approaches close to the City has its benefits.

1. Hearing the Merlins of the Battle of Britain Flight as they line up for a Buck House/Whitehall fly past.

2. Ditto the Adours of the Red Arrows.

3. In time to see 1 and 2 fly over my flat.

4. Seeing the last three Concordes line up and do their final approaches. As in - final finals.

5. At a posh event in an upstairs venue in a Park Lane hotel late at night, seeing the line of lights crawl across the sky east to west, and having a sudden, profound awareness of aviation as a living world machine, symbiotically merging networks, passengers, computers, pilots, airframes... that was stringing jewels full of people across the evening. "What are you looking at?" asked my friend. Oh, nothing...

6. The first flight back to Heathrow after the eerie emptiness of the volcano days.

7. Anything getting or out of City on a blustery day. Sporting!

It is, unfortunately, illegal to listen to ATC radio in the UK, otherwise I might have heard yet another dimension to all of the above.
posted by Devonian at 11:29 AM on October 26, 2012


What we're watching them do here is only part of the queue— the part at the end, where they literally form up into a straight line, and align themselves with the runway.

I guess technically they're separated on final, or on approach, or on final approach. They're lining up in the sense that they're aligning themselves to the runway but I don't think it's a strict "taking turns" thing because I think planes might jump in line depending on where they're coming from, speed, space between the planes, etc.

Some planes will make a straight in approach and might be "lined up" to the runway many miles out, while others approach from other directions and might jump into a traffic pattern and then turn into the final approach path, cutting ahead of a plane that might be doing a straight-in.
posted by bondcliff at 11:38 AM on October 26, 2012


Kabanos: Queueing, not lining up.
rebent: ok question. This word you just used, can you tell me how it is pronounced? Is it Kee-ing, Kew-ing, Kwee-ing, or Kew-eee-ing?
mkb: Q-ing. (or kyu-ing). Although pigs likely Kwee and Kew-ee when queuing.

Though given that some of them have (I think) come in over the area of the Royal Botanic Gardens, I suppose Kew-ing is even more appropriate.
posted by knile at 11:45 AM on October 26, 2012


If you want to do this in Chicago, go to Montrose Beach or the Ravenswood Metra platform, which have a clear view east of all the planes coming in to land at Runway 28 at O'Hare.

If ORD is in West Flow, which is its best configuration, go to the Rosemont L station. From there, you can get a close view of planes approaching 28 and a *very* close view of planes approaching on 27L -- and you'll see the ones landing 27R in the not-that-much distance.

Planes on 27L approach fly right over the parking lot, and they're low.
posted by eriko at 11:46 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Watching it while listening to this is oddly cheering...
posted by JB71 at 11:49 AM on October 26, 2012


I keep trying to figure out why I like this so much. All I can come up with is that it taps into some imprinted-through-repetition love of watching movies from the 80's and 90's on HBO. With that hanging letter-logo, the prelude to some great adventure. Where the imagination suspends the disbelief and fills in the gaps where the movie magic falls short.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:50 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a lot of monkey meat up in the sky.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 11:50 AM on October 26, 2012


This is flying into Lisbon. Right at the end (3:31) you go over a highway. It looks like you're up high in the video but you aren't. If you're in a car down below, the planes look really close. It's cool.
posted by chavenet at 11:52 AM on October 26, 2012


This is nearly exactly how it looks to bring and land a model airplane. Seems to be an excellent example of the the relationship between size and time.
posted by killThisKid at 11:57 AM on October 26, 2012


One of my all time favorites (especially as I never got to see Kai Tak except in videos) is the final approach at SFO. Since the airport is built on landfill in the bay, the two primary landing runways (28L/R) are only 750 ft apart center line to center line. As long as the clouds stay high enough, they'll do parallel approaches. There are some special procedures used to provide a bit more safety (i.e. high-speed radar monitoring and a special secondary radio frequency so last-minute traffic alerts don't get blocked), but it's still pretty close.

It's neat enough from the ground, but it's really amazing to see another aircraft landing beside yours from the air.
posted by zachlipton at 12:00 PM on October 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've also seen (what I assume is) that same line of planes while driving down Foster eastbound after dark. It's very peaceful, for some reason.

From north to south:

Approaches to 27R are basically along Pratt, between Touhy and Devon

Approaches to 27L run just north of Bryn Mawr. Towards the airport, it's basically right along the Kennedy Expressway

Approaches to 28 run down Argyle, between Foster and Lawrence.

When the new far-south runway comes online (which will be 28L/10R, the current 10/28 will become 28R/10L.) those approaches would run along Montrose ave. However, I think the plan is to generally only land three -- using 27R-L and 28R for west flow, and 10R-L and 9R for east flow -- but I don't think that runway will come online until 2015.

Driving inbound on the Kennedy at night, you can see the three lines of planes stretching out toward (and well over, if arrivals are heavy) the lake.
posted by eriko at 12:08 PM on October 26, 2012


Pretty cool. Though it certainly brings back memories of sleeping under a skylight in our friends' flat in Brixton.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:23 PM on October 26, 2012


I believe that in aviation parlance planes "line up" to take off and land, regardless of where they are.

That's probably because to a pilot, "line up" does not mean "get in the queue" - it means "align yourself with the runway centerline". "Line up and wait" is a command tower command that instructs the pilot to get on the runway but don't take off yet (usually because someone just landed and you need to wait for that jerk to get off the runway before you can start rolling).

There's a stretch of the NJ Turnpike that parallels the runways at Newark International, and driving home from school I'd always see the jets forming a near-perfect line in the sky, seemingly going off forever. It was the one nice part of re-entering New Jersey. After that you hit the chemical refineries and the smell makes you woozy.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:46 PM on October 26, 2012


There are 2 queues; the first queue is the holding pattern where you queue up for the second queue, where you queue for the actual runway. In the second queue, you also line up with the runway. In the unlikely (for Heathrow) event there are no other planes, you would continue to line up, but would not need to queue.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:01 PM on October 26, 2012


Awesome. I recommend this as background music.
posted by googly at 1:06 PM on October 26, 2012


I was doing this a few months back with the kids, and I was stunned as to just how quiet modern aircraft are. Last time I watched aircraft approach they were 727s and 707s DC9s and 10s
posted by the noob at 3:24 PM on October 26, 2012


I don't feel the same way about planes after the sonic terrorizing of the Chicago Air Show this summer. Those monstrous jet roars right over my head strummed some deep down animal terror in me. Now I really really really don't like hearing any jet noise at all because I imagine it is a prelude to a whack of Blue Angels making me want to pee my pants.
posted by srboisvert at 10:53 PM on October 26, 2012


Eriko: There are four holding points around Heathrow that you fly to first -- Bovington (BVN) to the NW, Lamborne (LAM) to the NE, Ockham, (OCK) to the SW and Biggin (BIG) to the SE. Generally, you fly to one of the hold points and enter the stack at the top. LHR Approach pulls planes off the bottom of the stack into the landing sequence. If I'm right about the direction, the planes coming from the right of the frame are mostly from Bovington and some from Lamborne, and the planes on the left side are coming from Ockham and Biggin.

Is that what's happening (maybe not the same places, but hold points and stacking) here?
posted by troika at 3:03 AM on October 27, 2012


We live right by DCA and can see planes taking off and landing from the south runway. When it's quiet enough you can hear that sort of high-pitched noise of taxiing planes. Muffled by a few buildings, it's surprisingly relaxing.
posted by troika at 3:10 AM on October 27, 2012


Is that what's happening (maybe not the same places, but hold points and stacking) here?

Yes, i think so. That's a fairly short hold on OCK. If look at Flightradar24.com you'll see planes in that pattern for 4 or 4 loops at busy times.
posted by jontyjago at 4:42 AM on October 27, 2012


Speaking of DCA, Gravelly Point is the place to go for this.
posted by speedo at 9:23 AM on October 27, 2012


I love the timelapse effect here, because all the bounciness makes the planes seem much more natural, like birds or insects instead of machines.
posted by Joh at 3:19 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neat. And almost cartoonishly wobbly. Are they puppets?!

Yes, they are reminiscent of the bats that accompany The Count on Sesame Street.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 1:21 PM on October 31, 2012


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