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Seeing Contrails Fron Inside A/C  
User currently offlineWardialer From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1183 posts, RR: 0
Posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1979 times:

Always wondered why I could not able to see the contrails from the window seat or even walking down to the back were I could see the behind of the engine? Why is that? On my recent trips to Europe it just dawned on me. And of course we were flying at above 25000 feet were most of the contrails begin to form at that point in altitude.

19 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineDAVID B. From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3148 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1953 times:

It depends on temperature, moisture, engine heat, power setting......ect

Where on the aircraft were you sitting? How hot was it that day?

Most likely to warm at 25000 feet.

Teenage-know-it-alls should be shot on sight
User currently offlineWardialer From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1183 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1945 times:

Well, I was sitting just slightly behind the wing. And the altitude we were flying at was mostly at 35000 feet and this was over the Arctic Basin coming from Frankfurt to Los Angeles. And getting some info from the Airshow Inflight System the outside air temp. was -58 deg.F

User currently offlineCdfmxtech From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 1341 posts, RR: 26
Reply 3, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1943 times:

Alot of times, the contrails are further aft of the aircraft. The first time I noticed contrails was on a B747 from the R5 door, and I was looking really hard. It was barely noticeable.
Yes it depends on temps, but I think it can also depends on aircraft length as well. I might not be possible to really see contrails on a B737-500 since it is so short. But u might notice them just a bit on a B777/B747.

Check out the pic below, maybe you can see what I'm talking about

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Javier F. Bobadilla

User currently offlineAirbus_A340 From Hong Kong, joined Mar 2000, 1560 posts, RR: 19
Reply 4, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 1915 times:

The air coming out from the engine is heated and it takes time for the air temperature to cool and reach the condensation level, which is why the 'vapour trails' are not found directly behind the engine.


People. They make an airline. www.cathaypacific.com
User currently offlineIkarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 1904 times:

Well, you can see them. If you sit far enough behind the wing. There is just one thing you should remember: From far away these things look like bright white thin lines in the sky. When you're sitting beside one, it's a metre or more in diametre, and almost transparent. So what you can see is a semi-transparent flickering whitish area that isn't too noticeable. I've seen them when sitting in the last rows of 737-800s and of course A340s and 747s. Sometimes, when the light is right and reflects off them properly, they can actually be decently recognizeable.

However, because they flicker and are almost transparent, you will never be able to take a picture off them from the plane itself....



User currently offlineBoeingnut From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 1858 times:

Ive seen the contrail from the a/c I was on once, and it was quite clearly visible, too! I was sitting in the last row of a SIA 744. This was in the middle of January, 2001 FRA-JFK, so over the Atlantic at 35,000ft was a tad bit chilly.

User currently offlineD-aqui From Germany, joined Sep 2001, 203 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 1856 times:

On a recent flight from DUB to BRU on an Aer Lingus A321 I noticed the contrails starting towards the end of the fuselage. I was sitting in one of the back rows and actually turning my head to the rear. However, as other members have already pointed out, the possibility to observe this phenomenon from the plane depends on a number of environmental factors as well as flight parameters.


User currently offlineLuzezito From Spain, joined May 2001, 270 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1839 times:

Very often depending on the weather conditions and if you are flying over clouded sky with the correct angle of the sun you can see the shadow of the a/c and the shadow of the contrails as they form, although you cannot see the contrails themselves!

Quoniam Vita Brevis Est, Propera!
User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1823 times:

Luzezito beat me to the point. It's frequently possible to see the contrail shadows in the cloud tops below the airplane. I've often wanted to ask ATC for a "360" on one of those days when contrails are prevalent, but alas, me thinks the boss would wounder what I was up to.


User currently offlineDC-10 Levo From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 3432 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1817 times:

I flew MAN-MCO in 1999 on a Virgin 747 and I could just see them then - it was a great sight!


User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4229 posts, RR: 37
Reply 11, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1811 times:

That's what deadlegs are for, Jetguy.  Big grin

Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineMt99 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 6678 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 1798 times:
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I saw them!! on an IB A340 heading to ORD over Ottawa CA. Sitting @ almost last row. could clearly see a "cloudy" formations for the exhaut.. man i wished i could have stepped ot a few thousand feet away to see that!

Step into my office, baby
User currently offlineGoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2727 posts, RR: 15
Reply 13, posted (12 years 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 1727 times:

I was on a British Airways 777 of the Atlantic en route from LHR to PHL and I could see our contrail starting to form. I was about 5 rows from the back.


User currently offlineBR715-A1-30 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (12 years 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 1725 times:

I tell ya, The best sighting I had was when we we flew by an AA 767 (They were going the opposite direction towards DFW) and the contrail we flew by was SPECTACULAR. This happened on June 10, on my way to ATL. It was kind of invisible until it had spread a little.

User currently offlineModesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2819 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (12 years 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 1707 times:

I was on a United 744, SFO-LHR, and I could see the contrails out of the 5R door window.

User currently offlinePositive rate From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 2143 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (12 years 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 1697 times:

I was on a BA 747-400 LAX-LON and i could clearly see the contrails coming out of engines 1 and 2. I can't remember my exact seat but it was just behind the left wing. The contrails seemed to form a few metres behind the exhaust nozzles.

User currently offlineBruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5067 posts, RR: 15
Reply 17, posted (12 years 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 1682 times:

I have never seen the contrail itself from inside. However, on a Delta 757 flight from DTW to ATL, in January, over Ohio at cruise, I did see a spectactular shadow on the cloud below: our plane and a loooooooooong contrail. I did take a picture of it, but I dont have a scanner (that was on film, before I went digital). I'm looking at it now. very cool.

Check out this link. an A321 at probably 35,000 ft, and no contrail! how come?

feel free to check outthe rest of the gallery too  Big grin


Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
User currently offline9V-SPJ From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 752 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (12 years 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 1481 times:

I was flying SQ 12 on my way to LAX, and from seat 54A, between SIN and NRT, I could see the contrails, if I turned my head so I was looking back out of the window. I could only see No.1 contrail though.


User currently offlinePositive rate From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 2143 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (12 years 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 1485 times:

I think the cool thing when flying is to sport other airplanes leaving contrails whilst you are flying. Yesterday i flew Virgin Blue 737-700 SYD-ADL and i spotted 2 other a/c en-route leaving long contrails behind them. One of these a/c appeared to be at the same FL as us(FL400) and we actually flew through his contrail.

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