Sunday, May 15, 2016

2016 Air-to-air

Thursday afternoon I was ferrying an aircraft home, VFR at 7500ft.  By habit, I was listening to Air Traffic Control even though there is no requirement to do so. Salt Lake Center is one of the few that does not separate high and low altitudes on separate frequencies, so it was no surprise to hear "Speedbird 282" check in. Speedbird, by the way, is the radio call sign for British Airways, headquartered at Speedbird House, London.
Curious, I looked them up on a flight tracker (maybe the same one you use?) and saw that Speedbird 282 was an Airbus 380 going from Los Angeles to London. I looked around a little bit and spotted them, well above me.
Oh, how nice. 
Air France 50 (LAX - CDG) was also on the frequency but I could not see them.  I spent some time thinking about when their paths would cross, since AF50 was north of BAW282.  I thought that would be the end of it.
The next morning my twitter feed featured a photo from a British Airways pilot of sunset over Greenland, "on my way home from LA." After a couple of tweets we pretty well established that he was crew on Speedbird 282 and that we had been flying many hours before within sight of each other.
I posted this story to facebook and got a comment from our local tower chief.  He had been sitting on his front porch (with a beer?  Who knows, but that makes for a good story) and saw "something large" going over so checked on flightaware: Speedbird 282!
You don't have to be very old to remember how difficult it used be to come into contact with people at such far remove. This is one of the things I like about this era.

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