A346Dude
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Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:37 am

I don't fly commercially particularly often, so I was wondering if under certain conditions it is possible to see the contrail of the plane you are in. I assume you would have to be close to the back of the aircraft and the conditions would have to encourage the rapid formation of contrails. Is this correct?

Also, if it is possible can anyone point me towards any photos that show them visible from a window?

Thanks,

A346Dude
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futureuapilot
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:59 am

I would think the farther back you are the easier it would be able to see if it was possilbe. Just a guess though. It would be visible if the back Air Stairs were open durring flight...  Wink

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SlamClick
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:01 am

No one can see it if you are not pulling one. Obvious, but don't spend a lot of time staring if no other planes are pulling cons.

As a passenger, especially on a long-body aircraft you can see it begin to form back around the last few rows of seats. It is very faint, but visible.

From the cockpit - only in a turn of about 40 degrees or more. I once did a turn in holding at FL330 and saw my whole holding pattern as I made the turns. That was pretty cool.

If you are looking down-sun you can see the bright spot that surrounds your shadow. If you are pulling a contrail you can see its shadow pointing to your shadow.

As cockpit windows are angled to favor forward visibility, it is hard to see more than a few feet of your wingtips from the flight deck.

I've always enjoyed following another jet on an airway, maybe twenty miles behind them. Some times you can fly along a hundred yards or so from their contrail and watch it twist and loop back over itself. Really cool!
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Dufo
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:04 am

Yep, I've seen contrails from the back rows of an A340. Unfortunately my slide scanner is inop  Sad
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dairbus
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:15 am

I was able to see the contrails on a 757 once. I was in the last row on the right side and by looking back under the horizontal stabilizer I was just able to see the contrail off the right engine.
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Newark777
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:16 am

I remember sitting in the second to last row of a VS 747, I saw the beginnings of the contrails forming out my window. That was before my photo days, though, so I don't have any pictures myself.

Harry
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HaveBlue
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 8:49 am

Back in November myself and a buddy went to DAB to take his 152 up and do some air work. While we were preflighting I noticed a 737 at altitude pulling a pretty good turn, and the contrails this day weren't disappearing. I kept my eye on him and sure enough, he did a whole race track pattern with the contrail from before entry into it and the 'circle' all visible. I have never seen that before or since, and only wish that I had a camera with me that day to get a photo of it.

He was traveling north to south just off the coast before and after entering it.
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AirWillie6475
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:21 am

I was in the last row on the right side of a UA747 when I saw the contrails. In my condition the sky had multiple cloud layers and it was during sunrise.
 
A346Dude
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 11:14 am

Thanks everyone for their help, especially SlamClick for the detailed response.

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 2):
I once did a turn in holding at FL330 and saw my whole holding pattern as I made the turns. That was pretty cool.

I'd be interested to know what sort of situation would require a holding pattern at cruise altitude.

Thanks,

A346Dude
You know the gear is up and locked when it takes full throttle to taxi to the terminal.
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:37 pm

Quoting A346Dude (Reply 8):
I'd be interested to know what sort of situation would require a holding pattern at cruise altitude.

I was inbound to Seattle and they got jammed up. Everyone was getting two or three turns ahead of us. They cleared me to hold at UBG. I could have descended but not very much. I elected to stay at 330. I also asked for a 30nm outbound leg, so I went only once around, and just turning outbound for the second orbit was cleared on up the road somewhere.

I wanted to stay high to maximize my available hold fuel. Holding down lower can burn a lot more and the plane I was flying had no troubles at all getting down so there was no disadvantage to staying high.

I don't recall if I had to hold again (don't think so) or got any significant delay vectors after that.

It was the only hold I can ever recall in the high altitude structure, but of course we sometimes get delay vectors or even reroutes up there. One day last summer I was in one of the western sectors of Chicago Center's airspace and heard them give someone inbound to ORD a heading of 240. That was directly away from his destination and he was about 300nm away at the time. Must have been an ugly day at O'Hare!
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modesto2
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 4:03 pm

I was looking out the window of the 5R door on a UA 744 while in-flight and could clearly see the contrail. At cruise altitude, just poke your head out (not literally!) and you should see it.
 
geoffm
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 4:42 pm

I could see it on a QF flight over Germany out the rear door window. However, I couldn't get the camera around far enough to take a photo!

Geoff M.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 5:30 pm

Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 6):
and the contrails this day weren't disappearing

Whats the normal time approx for a contrail lasting.What factors cause its Variance.
regds
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oly720man
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 5:54 pm

Contrails can last for hours. Depends on sun, local humidity, temperature, wind, turbulence and probably other factors as well. Some trails go very slender and break up, others just spread out and almost turn into altostratus clouds.
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BritPilot777
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:10 pm

I was at the back of a United 777, got to see the contrails quite easily. Awesome sight!!
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DeltaGuy
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:59 pm

I see em here all day in Jacksonville- we have the Craig (CRG) and Cecil (VQQ) VOR's, which is the main highway for most jets coming up from the south. On a real nice day, you may look up and see 5-6 contrails still left up there, all following about the same track.

A coupla years back, I was talking to my dad right before he took off from MCO, headed to JFK, in his Delta Express 732. He estimated his overhead time over CRG (my dorm roof had an excellent view of that part of the sky), and told us he was flying the PowerPuff girl painted aircraft, N310DA. Took my roomie's telescope out on the roof with us, and saw a contrail at about the time he quoted- not like it was a big telescope, but we could sure make out enough to know it was him  Smile Pretty neat.

DeltaGuy
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scbriml
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:00 am

We recently flew DXB-LHR on EK in a 773. We were in row 44 - I could only just see the wing tip out of the window, but I had a great view of our contrail. For some reason, my wife was considerably less excited about it than me!  crazy 
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jonty
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:39 pm

the only time i've ever seen one was from the window of the back door of a 747! i assume you need to be pretty far back from the engines to see it
 
CaptOveur
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:29 pm

Quoting FutureUApilot (Reply 1):
It would be visible if the back Air Stairs were open durring flight.

you sound like this guy
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SWISSER
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:33 am

I saw it on board the LX A340-300 reflecting it on the outboard engine!
I think I got a picture of it but not on A.net!
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bio15
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Sat Apr 16, 2005 11:24 am

Look at this huge contrails. They are likely to be seen from the aircraft during a turn, as some have mentioned.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © TriplET
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © TriplET



Alfredo
 
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:08 am

I have seen my own contrails, barely, a couple of times sitting in the rear of a B747 and a DC8-63. But, generally they come to be visible too far behind the aircraft. However, I often see them, or more correctly, an image of them from any seat, including the cockpit, when I am able to see the shadow of my planes and any trails on a cloud deck below!

On a related subject, how many of you have seen the shock waves formed above the wing of an airliner in flight? I regularly could visualize them back when Boeing 727s were common.
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:15 am

Quoting 113312 (Reply 21):
On a related subject, how many of you have seen the shock waves formed above the wing of an airliner in flight? I regularly could visualize them back when Boeing 727s were common.

On Southwest's 737-300 I began to believe I could calibrate their mach meter from an overwing, down-sun seat. The earliest formation of them seemed to be around the sheet metal buttjoint on top the engine pylon. At highest mach they ran in multiple parallel lines on the outer part of the wing.
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KDTWflyer
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Mon Apr 18, 2005 4:45 am

I've seen it on while flying in the back row of NW DC-10s, B744s, and B752s.

Also check out this photo below.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Alexander Jonsson

NW B744 B742 B753 B752 A333 A332 A320 A319 DC10 DC9 ARJ CRJ S340
 
tinpusher007
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Mon Apr 18, 2005 6:44 am

When I flew CDG-JFK many years ago in the very last row of an AF 744 I could see the contrail coming out of the number one engine. Looking through the window of the L5 door, I had a good view including the horizontal stabilizer.
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moriarty
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:43 am

I googled and found this old thread. This week I was on a flight (A333) and could clearly see the exhaust from the engine outside the window forming the contrail. I actually filmed it and it's clearly visible. Seems not to happen a lot, this is the first time I see it myself. Vapor during decent and takeoff, from wing tips or engine mounts etc, yes, but not exhaust.

I wanted to know how often this happen, that's why I googled. Seems quite rare but that it happens every now and then...

[Edited 2013-04-12 04:46:36]
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Woodreau
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:00 pm

From the flight deck sometimes you can see if you are making a contrail. You can't see it directly instead if the sun is in the right position and you have a cloud layer below you can see the contrail's shadow on the cloud layer along with the shadow of the aircraft you're in and the aircraft shadow is ringed by a 360degree rainbow

It's kind of neat actually.
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DashTrash
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:06 pm

I saw my wings making a contrail in the Citation X once. The shockwave was clearly visible just forward of the flaps with a little haze layer just behind the wing. It was almost like looking through a cloudy window. The shockwave looked like a line of grime on the wing. I wasn't able to get a picture, however.
 
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moriarty
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:10 pm

Quoting woodreau (Reply 26):
It's kind of neat actually.

I can imagine. Uploaded the vid I mentioned in case someone would be interested:

http://youtu.be/jxZMRsz8ACk
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SAAFNAV
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:16 pm

SlamClick, great to see your posts again!

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26point2
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:30 pm

Also very interesting to be following traffic 1000' or 2000' above and to see his wing tip vortex swirling within the contrail as it descends.

I recall a year or so ago the conspiracy theorists coining a new phrase.."Chem Trail"..and claiming contrails where part of a government climate change conspiracy or some such nonsense. Seems to me the concept fell out of favor with mainstream media (FOX News)...I wonder why?
 
DashTrash
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:07 pm

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 30):
I recall a year or so ago the conspiracy theorists coining a new phrase.."Chem Trail"..and claiming contrails where part of a government climate change conspiracy or some such nonsense. Seems to me the concept fell out of favor with mainstream media (FOX News)...I wonder why?

That's an old theory. In the X they put the switch right next to the muffler valve selector but we didn't carry enough fluid to raise much alarm.
 
Flightsimboy
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:23 pm

Not as clear as in the video posted above, but you can see your own contrails being formed as in my flight with Etihad from Toronto to Abu Dhabi

http://youtu.be/d6sbdYk1_fk
 
9VSIO
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:58 pm

Quoting SAAFNAV (Reply 29):
SlamClick, great to see your posts again!

Erich

I thought the same thing too! Until I saw it was from almost 8 years ago...
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DocLightning
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:08 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 2):

As a passenger, especially on a long-body aircraft you can see it begin to form back around the last few rows of seats. It is very faint, but visible.

Depends on conditions. I was once sitting not far behind the wing on a HA A332 and saw the contrail starting to form about ~10m behind the engine exhaust ring. It was actually pretty cool because that is such a rare sight to see. I imagine it was very cold and the relative humidity was very high to lead to such rapid condensation.
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tb727
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:39 am

Quoting DashTrash (Reply 31):
That's an old theory. In the X they put the switch right next to the muffler valve selector but we didn't carry enough fluid to raise much alarm.

Shhhh! There will be a knock at your door any minute now...  


I've had conspiracy type people ask me about them before, it's fun to mess with them.
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Starlionblue
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:40 am

Quoting tb727 (Reply 35):
I've had conspiracy type people ask me about them before, it's fun to mess with them.

Comes up rather frequently. In Sweden there was an article about a politician recently. http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article15478012.ab. She was demanding that "technicians working on the aircraft should stop installing these containers".

Of course the tinfoil hat crowd immediately claimed that a Swedish official "admitted" chemtrails were real. http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message2010713/pg1
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
SAAFNAV
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 5:09 am

Quoting 9VSIO (Reply 33):
I thought the same thing too! Until I saw it was from almost 8 years ago...

Oh duh!

I should have checked the date...   
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FighterPilot
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:20 pm

There were a couple days I was working that it was -40C and colder out this winter and we were making contrails on the ground and right after takeoff. I should have took a video or picture it was pretty cool to see. After takeoff we'd turn enroute and see the entire takeoff path right from rotation. Also some of the gravel strips I fly to have automatic weather reporting systems, it would be a sky clear day with -40C we'd land and if you seen the automatic METAR it would go from +6SM down to 1/2SM cuz of the contrails we left on the ground.

Cal   
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georgiaame
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:23 am

A LONG time ago, we were returning from Copenhagen on an SAS 747-?, seated in steerage, just behind the engines. The contrail formed well before the tail of the aircraft, there was no craning of our necks to see it. I know it's cold outside, but it had to have been really, really cold! Assuming the wing is located in the middle of the 230 foot long fuselage, and the contrail formed mid way between the trailing edge of the wing and before the APU unit, it couldn't have been much more than 50 feet beyond the rear of the engines. Haven't seen that happen since.
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LH707330
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RE: Can You See Your Own Contrail?

Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:17 am

This February I was seated in rows 38 and 39 in A330-300s and saw the contrails forming forward of me by a few seats. We were south of Iceland heading to Europe, must have been cold/humid out.

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