1 EAGLETON NOTES: SID 18 Busy Skies

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Sunday, 5 April 2020

SID 18 Busy Skies

Gaz, C and B are on their was home. As I write this they are above the Indian Ocean just over half way between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur. It is one of the wonders of modern science that I can open my phone and find out where a plane is on a live map. Anyone who often picks up people from planes knows how unreliable airport sites are with their arrival and departure information. However, if I can see that a flight is in the middle of The Minch on it's way to Stornoway then I know exactly when to leave home so that I will be at the airport at the correct time.

So I shall track their progress across the globe until they land in Glasgow and are safe and sound on Scottish soil. 

When I took the screenshot to the right they were half way across the Australian outback. Their plane is the little red one with the route shown. 

However what really struck me was that with every airline apparently closed down what are all these planes doing in the sky? 

Lots of them will be cargo planes but lots will not. I thought the numbers flying over China and the Far East in particular was particularly interesting . I know from Marcheline that the skies over the US are almost empty. Which made me realise that if there are that many planes when the skies are 'empty' how many are there usually. Actually looking at the pictures now (10:04) London airport looks quite busy and the Frankfurt to Los Angeles flight is somewhere above me. It suddenly brought it home to me that if this is the 'empty skies' level of aircraft pollution what is the 'normal' level. Somehow my academic knowledge had not computed with my perceived knowledge. In short there is one helluva lot of planes up there and, therefore, one helluva lot of pollution.

42 comments:

  1. Great news to read that G, C and B are on their way home, must be a big relief for you.

    Of course, as soon as I read your post I had to go and look at the Flightradar24 website. I noticed a plane recently departed from Edinburgh, headed your way. With a callsign of LJxx it was obvious what it was and the plane info confirmed - a private Lear Jet currently over Dalwhinnie. Makes you wonder what exceptionally rich person thinks they can escape CV-19 by heading to the Highlands . . . Or perhaps I am just too cynical in my old age 😉

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    1. Hi Jayne. There are not many people who come here by Lear Jet! The airport is closed to all but 'emergency' traffic which includes one 'commercial' flight from Glasgow for medical, key workers and returning Islanders. So I'm really intrigued by the Lear Jet if it was coming to Stornoway. The ferry has the same constraints and is down to one sailing a day too.

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    2. I followed the radar for a little while and the plane appeared to go directly over Stornoway. At which point I had finished my coffee and went into the garden!
      Trust that family are home or very nearly back on the island by now.

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  2. Everyone must be so relieved! They mentioned on our main news last night that there are still around 4,000 Germans stranded in various places around the world, waiting for our government to organise flights home for them. More than 120,000 have already been taken home, many of them are now in isolation or quarantine.

    Air traffic, yes. One of the biggest - if not THE biggest - contributor to pollution. I am guilty of travelling at least once a year by plane, too; this year, my sister and I had fully intended to travel to Yorkshire by train. We worked out that it would have taken us about twice as long (if all trains would run to schedule!) and cost about three or four times as much. As long as there is this huge difference, people won't stop travelling by plane.

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    1. Meike, the last figure I saw for Brits still abroad was 300,000+. I'm not sure how much that figure has been reduced. There are so many factors making us fly too. People think nothing of going to the other side of the world for a holiday and many people work 'abroad' these days too. We live in an incredibly fluid society. Which is one of the things that lets the Covid-19 virus spread so quickly too.

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  3. A bit of good news. I suspect pollution from aircraft is the least of our worries. Pollution from bats seems to be the immediate problem.

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    1. Adrian, by the time this is all over our economies will be in such a parlous state people won't have money to fly.

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    2. And the airlines will have gone bankrupt.

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  4. I wish them a safe journey home and hope that it will not be too long before you can all get together once again.

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    1. Thank you JayCee. I got a picture of an absolutely deserted Kuala Lumpur airport and a similar one from Heathrow a couple of hours ago. Unbelievable.

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  5. Being an aviation geek, I've followed that site for quite a few years. Even though it seems there are still a lot of flights, you would be amazed at how different the skies look from just a few months ago when they were absolutely packed with planes. But like you are doing now for your family, I have used this site to track flights for myself and loved ones. The most reliable one out there. Wishing safe travels for Gaz and his family. I know it will be a relief for you to have them back on the island.

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    1. Mary, I can well imagine the difference. If you take the outer Hebrides alone there is only one flight a day into Stornoway for 'emergency' traffic. The airport is otherwise closed. I'm not sure how many flights there are usually but I would hazard a guess at least 10 a day.

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    2. Mary, PS thanks for your good wishes for the family. They are now in Heathrow. One more flight and a drive and that's it.

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  6. Good to know your love ones are on their way home.
    Air traffic is an eye opener.

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  7. The airport in Atlanta, Georgia was proclaimed as the busiest airport in the world. Not any more! We were outside for 3 hours yesterday and we only saw two airplanes. We are just east of Atlanta and the planes were a constant in our skies. It's very strange. Glad your kin are coming home!

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    1. Thank you, Kay. Gosh, I didn't know that Atlanta was the world's busiest airport. I wonder why.

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  8. I lay in bed at night, hear a plane going over and check it on my phone.

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    1. Rachel, all the planes flying above me are at 30,000 ft plus on their way over the Pole to the USA. I never hear them.

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  9. In my opinion the only flights that should be happening now are repatriation if absolutely necessary and cargo planes. If they had stopped all tourist flights way back then we might not be in the situation we are today...they didn't want to lose money, or upset people or appear racist etc...but in the long run it is going to cost an awful lot more...

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    1. We ought to have just carried on as normal whilst dealing with those that succumbed. I can see the isolation being counter productive as folk are denied the chance to become resistant.

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    2. Serenata, I don't know the answer to your suggestion but certainly reading some US articles there are lobbies still refusing to stop flights.

      Adrian, there would have been no 'normal'. The death toll would have been immense. The NHS would have been completely incapacitated. A huge percentage of us oldies would not be here making a huge saving to the pension funds and government costs. The economy would still have been in ruins. And Keir Starmer would definitely have won the next election.

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  10. Interesting what we can find on line.

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    1. It is indeed, Red, a constant source of interest and information.

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  11. I wish them a safe flight home. Somewhere I think I read that a difference in air pollution and posirive effects for the environment has indeed been noted already. (Alas I don't remember the source.) If true I hope it may perhaps make us rethink some things when it's time to "start over" after the pandemic. (?)

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    1. Thank you, Monica. The difference around the world's major airports will certainly have been noticed. Coming from somewhere with pure air I could always smell the air pollution on motorways in England and the aviation fuel near Heathrow Airport left me astonished that people could live there.

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  12. That's a helluva lot of information you're gleaning while in isolation, Graham!! You are utilising your time very well, indeed! :)

    It won't be gusts of wind we hear...but sound of the collective heavy, deep sighs of those when their feet finally touch the green, green grass of home.

    Keep taking good care, Graham. :)

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    1. Thank you, Lee. There's a world of information to be gleaned from the internet. Without it I would know nothing these days.

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  13. HI Graham, I've become a plane tracker since moving to the house on the hill where I can now hear planes overhead. There aren't many but now know the time table of those that were there. The skies are now very quiet, I only hear the rescue helicopter occasionally. But I often check and, like you, have been amazed how many planes are still flying. Gas and family will be home in no time. I hope his time in isolation flies by for you all.

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    1. Pauline, one of the odd things about living in Napier was that there were virtually no planes flying overhead except the local ones popping into the local airport. Well, that's not counting my neighbour who sometimes came home in his chopper. When we did see one high enough to leave a vapour trail it used to elicit phone calls to me to look it up to see where it was going. That's how rare it was.

      Gaz and family are in Heathrow (or may just have taken off for Glasgow). All we have to hope for now is that the ferry will sail (gale force winds forecast) and they will be home tomorrow.

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  14. There are very few vapour trails in the skies here, it's noticeably quiet. Most of the traffic here would be holiday flights, so it's understandable.

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    1. Yes, Cro, not many people going on holiday at the moment that's for sure.

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  15. It's Monday evening now so I trust that Gaz and his missus and little Brodie are safely back in Bonny Scotland. No doubt Brodie will have missed his Grumpy Grandad so it is a shame that social isolation guidance will continue to keep you apart. Maybe they can come over and watch you through the window doing yoga, playing your bagpipes, polishing your dirk or just making funny faces at the little boy.

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    1. Thank you, YP. Your trust was correct. Of your four attributes I am afraid to say the only one I'm good at is funny faces.

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  16. Now that our communications are all on line, that gives me a whole new perspective.

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    1. Susan, life is full of new experiences and opportunities. I can recall when speaking to my relatives in Canada involved booking a phone call. The operator would connect the call at the allotted time and ring you to connect you. Now I chat to my New Zealand Family daily without even thinking about the fact that they are so far away.

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  17. From what I understand NZ's inward flights are only open to returning kiwis and Air NZ just got given a huge lifesaving handout so our skies are pretty quiet at the moment.

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    1. I think you are correct, Amy. Even some of our big airports are closed too except for occasional and emergency flights. Glasgow opened for a couple of lifeline flights and my son's flight in yesterday. It usually deals with hundreds of flights a day (5 of which are to the island I live on). We have one 'lifeline' flight a day now from Glasgow and none from anywhere else.

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  18. Since I'm an aeronautical radio operator, my views on the flying industry are on both sides of the line right now. While the humane side of me is appalled that anyone is flying anywhere for any reason outside of a downright emergency, the side of me that needs to keep making a paycheck is praying the airline industry does not fold. It's a tightrope - everything is on a total tightrope. Fecking pangolins.

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    1. Marcheline, everything always has multiple points of view. I hope that the Chinese get rid of the wet markets after this.

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  19. Once we get a vaccine for the disease, everything could go back to as normal as it can be. You make an excellent point though, Graham, we need to reflect on the damage we are inflicting on the planet and its really not healthy.

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    1. Ruby with the advances in the field of vaccines etc we may have one faster than ever before. However there is a long way to go and no one knows what state the world economy will be in by then.

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