Flying Back to China During The COVID-19 Crisis – SamChui.com

The most interesting part of the travelogue for me was the description of the steps being taken in China to combat COVID-19.  What they are doing must be having an impact based on the numbers we are seeing.  We look like relative fools here in the USA.  Our leadership is failing.  Soon we will be number one, and it will not be a positive thing.  Shame on us.

via Flying Back to China During The COVID-19 Crisis – SamChui.com

Secondary Consequences

Disaster struck a couple of days before I was to leave India to return to the USA.  There was an ambush of the military in the state of Kashmir that resulted in the death of a large number of Indian soldiers.  These kinds of events happen every once in a while due ongoing conflict in the state. These incidents are serious enough to create an international crisis, with two nuclear armed forces facing each other, eyeball to eyeball, across a disputed border.  Wars have been fought between India and Pakistan in the past because of this situation, and border incidents happen with frightening regularity.

My flight back from Delhi to Washington DC was happening a couple of days after the incident in Kashmir, and the flight path was about to closely follow the great circle route, the path that had taken me close to the North Pole on the way in to India.  This path took the aircraft, an Air India Boeing 777-300ER jetliner, over Pakistan, the “enemy” in this case.   I was not sure what was going to happen to my flight back home.  Fortunately, things went as planned.  The flight took the expected path in spite of the tension between the countries.

The retaliation for the ambush of the military in Kashmir finally happened just a few days ago.  This time, in response to the retaliation, the government of Pakistan appears to have shut down its airspace to all commercial traffic (not just that from India).  I wondered what would happen to the flights between Washington DC and Delhi.  I checked out Flightaware.  This is what I saw regarding the flight that took off from IAD to DEL on Wednesday (2/27/2019).Screenshot_2019-02-28 Air India (AI) #104 ✈ 27-Feb-2019 ✈ KIAD - DEL VIDP ✈ FlightAwareThe flight actually took a longer route than was normal, adding about a couple of hours to what was already a long flight, and it did not fly the great circle route, the route that would had taken the least time.   As is obvious from the last section of this flight, this route was taken to avoid flying over Pakistan.

On the other hand, the inbound flight from DEL to IAD, one that had been flown by the same aircraft just prior to this, had followed the expected route.Screenshot_2019-02-28 Air India (AI) #103 ✈ 27-Feb-2019 ✈ DEL VIDP - KIAD ✈ FlightAwareThe situation had changed between the flight heading out of Delhi to Washington DC and its return back to Delhi.

Conflicts have all kinds of consequences, and this was one of them.  It could not have been nice for the people on the flight.  Peace, y’all!

Seeing The Himalayas

This was my first time taking a direct flight from USA to India without an intermediate transit stop somewhere in-between.  The flight path was close to the great circle route. Screenshot_2019-02-02 Great Circle MapperIt took us north over Greenland, the Scandinavian Peninsula, and Russia, and then south through Uzbekstan, perhaps Tajikstan, and then Afghanistan and Pakistan. The map above is a polar projection.  This is how the route looks on the more common map that uses the Mercator projectionScreenshot_2019-02-02 Great Circle MapBecause of the nature of the flight path, and because of the time of departure of the flight, we went through a sunset and sunrise over a short period of time.  The flight took off in the early part of the morning and within three to four hours the sun had begun to set somewhere over Greenland.  (The generally easterly direction of the flight shortens the duration of both daytime and nighttime, but the bigger impact on the daytime was because we were closer to the North Pole at that point, where days already are shorter in wintertime. (Time to open up a geography book!))  At sunset, as we were heading north, my seat on the right side of the aircraft was facing east, away from the direction for optimal viewing of sunsets. This is the kind of view I got.P1250029.jpgAs the aircraft headed south during the second half of the flight, I ended up facing west, away from the direction of sunrise. Nevertheless I got a few pictures that seemed interesting. Here is one engine of our Boeing 777 aircraft. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANotice that the nacelle of the engine is lit up by the rising sun from below and not above.  Because of the angle of the rays of light at sunrise, because of the aircraft’s altitude, and because of the size of the engine, the rays of light are able to reach out under the aircraft to the engine on its other side first before they are able to reach over the top.  Even though it may not be obvious from the picture, the engines on this aircraft are massive, and would even touch the ground once landed if it was not for the height of the landing gear.

Although I could not see the sun rise directly, I was able to see its impact on the ground indirectly as we flew over the far western end of the Himalayas.  Here are some pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is indeed an awesome sight. This may be the only time one gets to experience the thrill of the Himalayas.

The timing for this flight was the best I have experienced in all my travels from USA to India over the many years.  The return trip also promises to be advantageous in this regard.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

The Udvar Hazy Center is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in Fairfax County, Virginia.  The huge space hosts a whole lot of aircraft and other human built flying objects, in all shapes and sizes, from the beginning of human flight.  There are just too many exhibits to remember, or even go through in detail in a single day!  Here are a few pictures.

If you are fascinated by aeroplanes just like I am, read more specific details about some of these aircraft, and see pictures of some of their transitions to the museum, at the following links provided by the Smithsonian.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

Space Shuttle Discovery.

The Enola Gay.

The Mustang.

The Concorde.

Dassault Falcon 20.

Global Flyer.

Super Constellation.

The World’s Biggest Jet Engine Is About to Get a Blast of Ice|Wired

 

Image courtesy of Wired Magazine.

Developed primarily for the new Boeing 777X, this behemoth is wider than the fuselage of a 737 jet and can generate more than 10,000 pounds of thrust.

via The GE9X Jet Engine Is About to Get a Blast of Ice (For Safety’s Sake) | WIRED

A Window Into Our Travels

For this week’s challenge, I scrambled around looking for any and all pictures taken during recent travels that could be relevant to the theme of windows, regardless of the context in which the theme could be invoked.  The result could appear to be somewhat scattershot. Perhaps the real unifying theme is that these pictures a part of larger stories that appear elsewhere in my blogs.

During our recent visit to New England, we stayed one evening at a lovely Bed and Breakfast establishment in Gorham, NH.  I wandered around early in the morning, taking the following pictures that showcase some of the windows in this old home.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following pictures were taken during the same New England trip in Tip-Top House, which used to be a hotel right at the top of Mt. Washington in NH.  The entire facility still exists in its original form even though it is not in use today. The windows here seemed somewhat small.  Perhaps they are that way in order to minimize the loss of heat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following pictures were taken from the window of my plane on my way to the Canadian Rockies for a six day bike ride.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following pictures were taken from the window of our van as we drove into Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies for the start of the bike ride.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese last pictures was taken during the rescue operation after the bike ride, during my train ride from Edmonton to Toronto on The Canadian.IMG_20170804_094454299IMG_20170805_154810189_HDR

Layers In The Sky

Here are a couple of really old pictures, not necessarily of great quality, with observations of layering.

One can perhaps guess the circumstances under which the first picture was taken, and if you look more carefully, you can see that there are people in another aircraft, maybe a few hundred feet away from us, who have a similar viewpoint.IMG_1932Layering of colors is fairly typical when your aircraft is heading towards the sunset.  (You can also make out the edge of the wing of our aircraft in the picture below.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASubmission for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Southwest Winglets All The Time

We flew Southwest Airlines to and from California for our vacation.  The airline exclusively flies variants of the Boeing 737 aircraft on all of its routes.  Most of these aircraft are fitted with winglets that are designed to improve their performance.  The winglets on a 737 are quite striking in appearance, especially in Southwest colors.  I ended up taking a lot of pictures of this feature in many different settings.

I could not resist posting a blog about this!

Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra)ordinary Planet Earth

Very often something that you experience for the first time can seem extraordinary to you, but repeated exposure with time can make it feel more “ordinary”.  The novelty can wear off.

In this context, the series of pictures that I am going to present may tend to be less noteworthy to a certain subset of population that is used to flying on commercial aircraft across the United States on a regular basis. But I also suspect that not all of this subsection of the population  actually even sees what I see.  They probably would not handle the flying experience the way I used to.  Most folks are who on these trips regularly are doing it for business purposes, and the flying part of the experience is used for pursuits other than taking pictures out of the window of the aircraft.  The more energetic folks are usually catching up on work, most often on their electronic devices, while most others are trying to simply relax, either reading, or watching a movie or taking a nap.  An alcoholic beverage or two can also sometimes help the time pass by.

But I took a different approach.   I would attempt to get on flights that were at the right time of the day for taking pictures from the air, and if possible even try to find a window seat on the side of the aircraft that provided the best views at that time of day.  My face would be stuck to the window pane. (The Airbus 320 family of aircraft have much more comfortable windows than the Boeing 737s in this regard.) I would take pictures of whatever I could see that seemed remarkable (extraordinary?) to me both in the sky and on the ground.  I flew quite a lot for many years, but none of this stuff ever became ordinary to me.

Looking back in time, I was quite fortunate to have found something to do that was exciting and extraordinary to me, something that made the routine and the drudgery of unending business trips for the purposes of making a living and putting bread on the table more tolerable.

Most of the flights I used to take happened to pass over the southwest of the United States, a particularly remote and rugged area of the country with a low population density.  Here are few shots that from those days.

IMG_2329The black spot in the picture is from water on the ground.  I wonder if people live in this area. And here is a picture taken with the sun low in the sky.

IMG_4099It seemed to me that I was flying over a different planet.  And then there was this shot that reminded me of fractals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe structure seen in the following picture reminds you of the complexity of the processes that have shaped the earth.  My guess is that the material of the structure is able to withstand erosion much better than the material around it.

IMG_2557Sometimes you see the impact of the combination of nature and man on the ground in a different way, as on this wintry day when I was flying cross-country.

IMG_2526Finally, here is a very simple phenomena that I saw from the window of my aircraft.

IMG_2341I have never seen a circular rainbow anywhere else.  Here is an explanation for this phenomenon.  Apparently this is not an uncommon thing for people who fly frequently to see.  It goes to show that something that is extraordinary to one person may be ordinary for somebody else.

Here are some other pictures I have taken while flying.

Here is a link to this week’s photo challenge.