Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cool Contrails over Wellington

Having been involved in a couple of in depth discussions about contrails lately, I thought I'd share a couple of cool ones I've photographed over Wellington. The major air-routes where contrailing occurs run to the east and west of Wellington, so trails directly overhead aren't that common.

While heading into town to catch the theme decalled Air New Zealand Boeing 777 flyover for the Hobbit world premier last year (because that's the sort of stuff that happens in my town)-

- I noticed this apparition arising from the west. At first I thought it might be the 777 turning up early at altitude, but then realised it was unlikely to be approaching from that direction, and the four engine trails suggested something else.
It turned out to be a QANTAS 747-438 a few hours into a 12 hour flight from Sydney to Santiago, and laying a spectacular contrail over NZ's capital in the process. Normally this flight crosses NZ much further south; 747s aren't often seen here. Props to my wife for taking these pics with my camera while leaning out of a car window stuck in traffic:
I caught another cool contrailer a couple of years ago. I don't normally bother photographing trails too much, unless they stand out, and this one did. I hadn't seen a trail that fanned out like this one did before, and it turned out to be a USAF C-17 Globemaster III en route from Hawaii to Christchurch to support the Deep Freeze Antarctic operation that is based there.
One thing I figured out from this is that you can identify a C-17 from the shape of the contrail alone, which is kind of a neat if mostly useless trick.


missrabbitty said...

just because i can't be arsed googling...contrail? i know what it is but where does the name come from?

Off-Black said...

Water vapour in the engine exhaust condensing when it encounters the freezing temperatures at altitude.

A bit like this: