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Small plane escorting a 747

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  • raflec
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Sep 2011
    • 18

    Small plane escorting a 747

    Forgive me for very little details and sketchy.
    This morning (Friday 23rd Jan)at approx 0830 from quite a distance it appeared that a 747 was flying in formation with a lot smaller aircraft possibly a 737 or A319. They were side by side at first. They then turned and headed towards one of the London airports (possibly Heathrow) the 747 took the lead and the smaller aircraft dropped back a bit but still followed quite closely. Does anyone know what was happening here or can shed any more light on the incident. It certainly wasn't normal for civil aircraft landing. But again i am no expert and have limited knowledge.
  • viscount
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Mar 2011
    • 392

    #2
    A few more details you don't mention. Where about were are you when making these observations? Were the aircraft on airways and contrailing, or much lower down being vectored for approach?

    Certainly from the North west of England at busy times of day it can appear that airliners on contrail, heading in the same direction down airways are 'chasing' each other. The height difference not discernable from 6-7 miles (30,000ft) away vertically. On numerous occasions I seen contrailing aircraft on 'collision' course, only of course, to pass directly over one another from my view-point - from the pilots perspective likely several thousand feet vertically.

    Distance and size can play tricks with the eye. Years ago I was walking the dog in a hill-top park. Several other dog walkers were there too watching (what I knew to be a HS.748 and a Beluga) fly directly into each other and colliding - there was an audible release of breath when the aircraft became two again. On a map later I reckon they were around 10 - 15 miles apart (one on Chester finals, other in the Liverpool circuit). Watching different sized aircraft 'stacking', waiting for descent and approach into Heathrow can lead to similar visual tricks due to dissimilar sizes too.

    Passengers tend to get rather concerned if another aircraft is seen, let alone flies 'in formation' - just consider the plethora of press comments and passenger photos when RAF Typhoons escorted an airliner into a landing at Manchester a few months back. In the USA where airports have parallel runways, both taking landing traffic it can be quite disconcerting to watch a much larger aircraft apparently flying just off your wing-tip at a slightly different speed descending parallel with you.
    Last edited by viscount; 24th January 2015, 10:46.

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    • raflec
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Sep 2011
      • 18

      #3
      Hi viscount, I think I was in the Potters Bar / New Barnet area of North London. The aeroplanes turned to look like they were on their final approach to Heathrow? My job as a train driver see aeroplanes every day especially when driving down toward Kings Cross. Initially they wer definitely side by side in formation, at first I thought it was a jet fighter shadowing a 747, but when I got a little closer it looked too big for a jet fighter and more the size of a commercial airline. On turning South the 747 did take the lead, but was closely followed by the other aircraft. If you take London as South from my location they flew in from the east to west, then turned South.

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