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Aircraft Lights ID  
User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1837 times:

Ohla. I just saw an airplane fly by a couple minutes ago with a light pattern I'd never seen before:

Instead of having a visible wingtip strobe light, it seemed to have a bright white light that alternated from the left wing to the right and vice versa, ie, left wing white light on/right off, then left wing light off/right wing light on. It was definitely on the wingtips because when the light on the left wing was off I could see the green nav light. If it helps, there was also a white nav light on steady on the tail end of the fuselage.

Does anyone know what type A/C this was?

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKerberos From Canada, joined Apr 2004, 119 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 1825 times:

It might help to know where you saw this aircraft, and if it was a jet or turbo prop. If I'm not mistaken, I think I've seen Alaska MD80s with this pattern. They definitly have white lights on the wings. Also Westjet 732s.


This is your captain speaking. I’ve turned off the no-smokin’ sign. Hell, if the plane is smokin' why can't you?
User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 1814 times:

Sorry about that. I'm in Sacramento, California. It flew over sacramento, heading roughly N/NE. Couldn't really tell if it was a jet or turboprop; didn't hear the prop, but with it at 20,000+ feet (guess-timate) would I have?

User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 1808 times:

Quoting Duce50boom (Thread starter):
it seemed to have a bright white light that alternated from the left wing to the right and vice versa, ie, left wing white light on/right off, then left wing light off/right wing light on

Sounds like a Southwest 737 or other aircraft that has the alternating landing light system installed...


User currently offlineKerberos From Canada, joined Apr 2004, 119 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 1806 times:

Landing / Approach lights dont normally come on until 10,000ft, could it have been that low? Based on my limited knowledge either the AS MD80 or WJ 732 could fit given your location, though I think WJ flies the -700 or -800 stateside now. Maybe someone else has a better idea. Military perhaps?


This is your captain speaking. I’ve turned off the no-smokin’ sign. Hell, if the plane is smokin' why can't you?
User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 1798 times:

I don't think it could've been a WN jet. For one, IIRC the 737 alternating landing lights are on the fuselage, these were definitely on the wingtips, and they didn't just go on and off simultaneously, they were opposite of each other.

It was definitely above 10,000 feet. I'm guessing in the mid 20s or maybe higher. But definitely not 10K. Plus no airports on this side of West Sac with arrivals putting it in this area at that low an altitude. Not even Mather


User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 1771 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 3):
Sounds like a Southwest 737 or other aircraft that has the alternating landing light system installed...

What is the purpose of the alternating landing light system? Other than looking cool, of course  Wink



New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 1725 times:

Nevermind, I tried a search and it worked wonders. Who woulda thunked it?


New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 8, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 1501 times:

Quoting N844AA (Reply 6):
What is the purpose of the alternating landing light system? Other than looking cool, of course

Anything to scare the Birds  Smile
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineFlyboySMF2GFK From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 193 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 1472 times:

Duce, what side of West Sac are you on? I couldn't tell by your post. At that Heading and Alt it could have been on approach to KBAB. Perhaps somebody here knows of military a/c with these lights. I recall watching an S-3 at North Island that might have had those alternating lights and it wouldn't be out of the question at Beale as they seem to get their share of transient traffic.

Lots of bizjets/bizprops have them, too. If it was one of these, there would be plenty of airports to choose from at 20k (let's assume about 40-80nm of descent on a N/NE bearing): Beale, Nevada County, Marysville, even Lincoln is a possibility as they would have been landing to the south that night. Truckee, KTVL, and Reno are a little off-course for that heading, but it's not outside the realm.

It does seem out of the proper altitude range for an airliner in that area, though. It could have been a departure out of OAK, too - forgot to turn the wig-wags off.

Maybe somebody has some data of a more empirical nature...


User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 1410 times:

Flyboy, I'm in citrus heights (represent!), so north east of west sac. I thought of beale at first too, but traffic didn't seem to be descending and would've been at or below 10K overhead if it were on approach to KBAB.

Thanks for the insight! I didn't think about OAK departures at all, or possible arrival into Truckee or Reno


User currently offlineFlyboySMF2GFK From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 193 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 1381 times:

Duce,

I'm from Fair Oaks originally, but I'm in a flatter place now.

I assume by your time stamp that the a/c flew over sometime between 10:00 and 10:30, right? That'll narrow down most airliners - I'll check Monday night's schedule for OAK, SFO, and SJC for sure. Figure a departure window from 9:30 to 10:00. Can you describe the heading a little more? Was it following the 80 corridor or was it headed more northerly?

Okay - some results:

Nothing out of OAK matches that profile

WN 1257 SJC-RNO matches fairly well, in fact, despite the discussion of Southwest's non-use of wingtip flashers, the flight would fit your profile almost perfectly. Routing probably KSJC SUNOL6.SAC SAC.SIER3 KRNO.

Off the gate at 9:35 (assuming no delays), time off probably about 9:45, depart to the north, then a crossing restriction at SUNOL puts it about 8 minutes. 250kts to 10K after SUNOL another 3 minutes, then 9 minutes to SAC. Time over SAC roughly 10:05PM, then another 3 minutes to be over your position - 10:10 or so. By this time I think they'd be on descent. Cruise altitude would have to be FL 250, 270, 290, or 330. Unless they were light, I'd expect 270, which would put it in your envelope. I'd estimate the TOD with a planned crossing at 16,000 at HOBOA would be just about over eastern Sacramento - possibly use of the lights at that point?

Though many flights out of SFO fit the description obviously none of them are WN, and they're all to points father than RNO - but could still be on climbout at that point.

Of course, none of this speculation actually answers the original question, just a possibility. As you can see, you've piqued my curiosity.

the link to SJC departures:
http://www.sjc.org/flights/planning.html

to SFO departures:
http://timetables.oag.com/sfo/flights.asp

here are the requisite DP/STAR charts:
http://204.108.4.16/d-tpp/0504/00693SUNOL.PDF
http://204.108.4.16/d-tpp/0504/00346SIERRA.PDF


User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 1332 times:

FlyboySMF,

It definitely looked to be following the 80. At that altitude though, no way he was IFR (I follow Roads), but I guess Reno could've been where he was going. I just got back today, so I'll check out the links here in a few. I saw it overfly my place about 5 minutes before I posted this thread.

In any case, thanks for everything! Fair Oaks represent (san juan/madison)


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