Through The Looking Glass


At least 40 percent of pilot compensation is visual. We see some weird and cool stuff on a fairly regular basis.  Most of it we understand, a lot of it we don’t.

The photo is taken from an angle that we don’t see from since I just held the camera up at the top of the winddow and blasted away in the general direction I thought the shadow would be. 

The little bracket looking things on the nose of the airplane are “vortex generators”. They  slow down airflow in certain spots in order to reduce wind noise, drag, or prevent sonic shock wave formation.

The image of an airplane coming the other direction is our own shadow projected on a cloud by the sun behind and above us.

What I don’t really understand is that these things always have a round bright spot with a full spectrum rainbow at the front of the shadow.  Maybe these are related to how a pin hole camera works.

If you are an expert wise in the ways of light and shadow please explain.

We call them Sun Dogs, as for why ….. I don’t know that either. 

Happy Landings


8 Responses to “Through The Looking Glass”

  1. Daniel Drucker Says:

    I highly recommend these two books (the first especially):

  2. Looks Jesusy. Are you positive it’s not Jesus guiding your plane?

  3. Yeah. Totally me.

  4. luckyjet1 Says:

    Hey Zeus!

  5. An excellent explanation of the round bright spot surrounded by the rainbow is in Lecture 31 here:

    What you’re looking at there is a secondary rainbow. Toward the end of the lecture Walter Lewin shows an example of creating the same effect in his backyard.

  6. No matter how it’s caused, that’s really cool.

  7. This is much too small to be a secondary rainbow. In fact, it’s called a “Glory”. Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics explains the phenomenon in great detail here:

    Be sure to check out the rest of the explanation via the links on the left hand side.

  8. luckyjet1 Says:

    These seem to be related to pin hole cameras in function, the airplane needs to be just the right distance from the clouds and the sun at just the right angle for this to happen at all. Anytime the airplane casts a shadow there will be a bright ring around the shadow. Strange doings.

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