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  #1  
Old 5th May 2020, 09:21 PM
HPsauce HPsauce is offline
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Default What's going on in the air?

Not sure that many of you are interested, but as we live relatively near Heathrow and are under many flightpaths (normally) it's interesting to see what's going on now. Basically not a lot, relatively speaking.

First thing I've noticed, apart from the dramatic reduction in flights, is that we can now hear individual panes taking off from Heathrow, nearly 20 miles away!
If I hear a planes engines and check it online (Flightradar24 is good) it's often still on the runway within the airport boundary!

And I've really got good at identifying the planes from the engine noise. A 4-engine 747 is now so distinctive, and all the A380s are long gone.

Basically there are 3 types of plane flying now, almost no others:
Daytime: Boeing 777 and Airbus A350. With the very occasional Dreamliner thrown in.
Nighttime: As above but largely outnumbered by 747s, all cargo variants.

We're also under the flightpath from Northolt/London to Chequers so get quite a lot of low-flying helicopters. And not all of them are showing/registered with a known flight path. Seen quite a few Chinooks go over very low that are just not visible online.....

But nothing will ever compare to the aerial armada that flew up the valley when George Bush visited Tony Blair at Chequers back in 2001.
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Old 5th May 2020, 09:29 PM
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Ameiseuk Ameiseuk is offline
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Funny enough, I'm sitting in my study looking out at what should be the final turn to line up for landing at Belfast International (BFS/EGAA)
Total lack of aircraft at the moment, the evening should have the usual steady stream of regional Easyjets/Ryanairs.

Currently we only get 2-3 cargo aircraft and a few military aircraft in for a gas-n-go before they head transatlantic.....

Enjoying the silence!
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Old 5th May 2020, 10:24 PM
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I would imagine it's very noticeable how different it is.

I flew back from Amsterdam last week and both airports were very empty and surreal, to say the least.
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Old 5th May 2020, 10:26 PM
MikkiJayne MikkiJayne is offline
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I've also noticed a dramatic drop in the aircraft overhead. I'd normally see half a dozen in the air at any point when I go for a walk at lunchtime. Now there is just one in an hour - 4 engines, heading across the Atlantic. Nothing small heading in to Exeter since Flybe is toast. No military activity at all in the last month or so - normally there's quite a lot round here.

Typically, living on a hill in the middle of nowhere with no light pollution, it was cloudy when SpaceX launched the second batch of Starlink so I didn't see any of that

I did notice one fascinating phenomenon from the single daily flight a couple of weeks ago when the weather was bright but a few clouds around - the exhaust plume from the engines was clearly visible as a dark trail in the sky. I watched it separate from the vapour trail and drop steadily down and pass through some clouds until it eventually dispersed underneath them. I've never seen that before so I think it must be to do with the air being so much cleaner now. I thought it was an optical illusion or confirmation bias so I stopped watching it for a few minutes and then was easily able to spot it again. I guess normally this soot just blends in to the polluted atmosphere so is invisible.
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Old 6th May 2020, 07:06 AM
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Ref the Chinooks, as a london based worker I was told many years ago that the flights over London were a routine changeover of an SAS deployment kept in London for anti-terror response

Suspect other flights for training etc are similarly ‘under the radar’?

We use flightradar at work - if nothing else my aviation colleagues are nearly all plane buffs!
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Old 6th May 2020, 09:18 AM
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I have a fleet of Raspberry Pi computers, and three of them run PiAware in conjunction with an SDR (software defined radio USB dongle with aerial) which listens out for ADS-B transmissions on 1090MHz. These are geographically located in NW London, Surrey and Somerset so I normally get to see a fair few planes on a good day but with the Covid-19 lock-down, traffic has dropped to about 10% to 15%, which is indeed a huge reduction.

Monitoring from Crewkerne has the best range, with planes sometimes transmitting ADS-B signals from over 150 miles away. NW London has around 60-70 miles range and mine in Surrey a paltry 40-50 miles range. I've seen 'USAF 100th Refuelling Wing' a few days ago, and have also picked up FAA flights (Fleet Air Arm). Helicopters tend to be a bit limited in terms of info broadcast, especially so with anything registered to the UK Police for obvious reasons. I've also seen a helicopter registered to 'UK Home Office'. The majority of planes in the sky seem to be cargo (CargoLux/DHL et al).

(data feeds from my 3 Pi computers get sent back to FlightAware servers for inclusion on their website)

If anyone is remotely interested in doing the same, it will probably cost around £80-£100 to get one going.
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Old 6th May 2020, 09:46 AM
HPsauce HPsauce is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikkiJayne View Post
I've also noticed a dramatic drop in the aircraft overhead. I'd normally see half a dozen in the air at any point when I go for a walk at lunchtime. Now there is just one in an hour - 4 engines, heading across the Atlantic. Nothing small heading in to Exeter since Flybe is toast. No military activity at all in the last month or so - normally there's quite a lot round here.
Just looked and there's an Atlas Air 747-45E cargo plane almost over you as I post, heading from Norfolk (Virginia) to Frankfurt.
I guess you're not on the major transatlantic routes as they're mostly further north.
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2016 Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country (4WD) with ALL the toys including adaptive cruise etc. etc. Osmium Grey with Blonde/Charcoal leather interior. Polestar performance "optimisation". (A much rarer model than a D2 S8 by the way!)
Finally: gone, but not forgotten.....
1998 D2 PF S8. AgateGrey/Platinum. Every option (I think) except electric rear seats, tiptronic steering wheel, ski hatch, towbar & dimming door mirrors.
e.g. Cruise control, NavPlus/TV, Bose, GSM, Xenons, Solar roof, Parking sensors, Alcantara/leather everywhere of course. (internal dimming mirror added later)
1998 (very early) Ford Focus 1.8 Zetec; ABS/TCS, Heated screen/mirrors, Aircon, Auto-dim mirror, Leather, Trip computer, Cruise control, OEM Ford SatNav with CD changer.
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Old 6th May 2020, 10:23 AM
MikkiJayne MikkiJayne is offline
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I'll miss that one as its a bit early. There should be one heading West at about 13:00 which is the only one I see now. I'm curious to see what that is and where its going if most of the transatlantic routes are further North, since there isn't very much else West of here! South America maybe?
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Old 6th May 2020, 10:43 AM
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Slightly O/T, but I'm more curious about what's happening to the sky, as for the past seven weeks here in Northern Ireland (Londonderry) it's been a strange blue colour, something we're not used to seeing

Seriously though, the last time it rained here was the day before St. Patrick's day, the 16th March. Of the 42 days since, we've had three continuous days of total cloud cover with literally some spots of rain in the evening (not enough to wash the dust off the car) over those three days. The rest of the time has been 80-100% clear skies. We don't even get this sort of weather in the middle of summer.
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Old 6th May 2020, 11:05 AM
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In related news, I filled up the thirsty bus with a tiny fuel tank today (S5) for the first time since mid-March.....

It's the only car we've used in recent weeks and done a sum total of 220 miles (most of which was a round trip to hospital for an appointment!)

It has rained a fair bit down in the South East corner of England over the last week or so, but we are very much noticing the drop off in aircraft traffic overhead. Although we're no longer on the flightpath for Gatwick, we're still used to seeing planes at reasonable altitudes on approach/departure, which we're just not getting.

About the only thing we hear now is the local police chopper and the occasional private aircraft (which are presumably doing their allowed engine run flights to keep things working, rather than off on a jolly!)

Be interesting to see if our political 'masters' sense an opportunity to push for a greener economy in general as we come out the other side. one suspects they'll just want to get back to business as usual and we'll be back to trying to elicit why allowing sky writing is somehow critical to aviation.......
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