Friday, December 5, 2008

Paradise by the Runway Lights

Either I’ve never seen or never noticed runway lights at O’Hare flashing in sequence until I drove by Wednesday night. That is so cool, I thought. I think the closest runway to the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) is opposite Allstate Arena. I saw the lights flashing on my right, and then a few seconds later I saw the FedEx jet on approach from my left. (I rolled down my window to listen to the engine roar.) The lights are impossible to see as an aircraft passenger because one would need a pilot’s-eye view. I thought perhaps they were only used in inclement weather—it was snowing Wednesday night—but it was clear Thursday night, and I saw them operating again. (American jet.)
I noticed the FedEx aircraft was a trijet—an engine in the tail and one on either side—a rarity in U.S. skies. I concluded it was either a B-727 or DC-10, and the latter even more unlikely due to its large size. I checked, and FedEx does use 727’s. As I discovered when working with aircraft four years ago, old passenger jets never die; they just switch to cargo.

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