Wednesday, March 21, 2007

FL 350

Friend of mine records his thoughts over at dkessler.blogspot.com, the home of “Cathedral Voices”:

Just saw the International Space Station fly overhead our house, he writes. It looked like a bright star traveling across the heavens … viewed thousands of miles up from our little street! It's quite hard to imagine that astronauts from different parts of the globe are conducting scientific tests; probably at this very moment.

Lots of times I see airplanes headed for Europe. They are passing by at 35,000 feet, known as Flight Level 350 or just FL 350. I look up at them and wonder what’s going on up there: snack cart being wheeled down the aisle? People reading the inflight magazine? Anybody thinking of who might be 35,000 feet below them looking up?

I wonder if anyone has checked the spark plugs lately, or tightened the bolts that hold the wings on. You can’t just land in the Atlantic Ocean to check some strange noise halfway across. It’s a long way from New York to London, or Paris, or Rome. It’s also a long way from 35,000 feet to zero feet.

I was listening to the pilot talking to Air Traffic Control on a United flight, where earphone audio 9 or 10 is their comm channel. At one point, I told my mother I was going to the rest room. “Don’t really have to go much,” I said, “but the pilot just got permission to climb and this may be the only time I get to take a leak at 42,000 feet.”

5 Comments:

Anonymous HelenWheels said...

I go out to see the ISS whenever conditions are right and weather permits. Silly as it sounds, I wave to it, even though it's anywhere between 220 and 600 miles away, depending on how high in the sky it is. Want to find out when you can see it? Click this link: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/SSapplications/Post/JavaSSOP/JavaSSOP.html and click on the dots corresponding to your own location (Scranton's probably close enough) or you can enter a longitude and latitude, then click Next Sighting. The morning sightings can be a bit early, especially during the summer time (usually before 6am - WAY too early for me) but it cycles around every few weeks between early morning and evening sightings. It really is a lovely sight.

March 26, 2007 3:18 PM  
Anonymous HelenWheels said...

I go out to see the ISS whenever conditions are right and weather permits. Silly as it sounds, I wave to it, even though it's anywhere between 220 and 600 miles away, depending on how high in the sky it is. Want to find out when you can see it? Click this link: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/SSapplications/Post/JavaSSOP/JavaSSOP.html and click on the dots corresponding to your own location (Scranton's probably close enough) or you can enter a longitude and latitude, then click Next Sighting. The morning sightings can be a bit early, especially during the summer time (usually before 6am - WAY too early for me) but it cycles around every few weeks between early morning and evening sightings. It really is a lovely sight.

March 26, 2007 3:18 PM  
Anonymous HelenWheels said...

*sigh* Don't make me tell you again. Oops. Too late.

March 26, 2007 3:20 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

That's ok; I wasn't listening the first time.

March 26, 2007 10:50 PM  
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