September 28, 2006

Planes, and Planes, and Planes.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:22 pm

It’s funny how you become accustomed to things.

Where I live, no matter what the time of day, if you look skyward, you’ll see planes, often several at a time. They’re easier to see at night. I never give it much thought, because it always has been that way.

The weekend before last, I was outside reading, and I decided to pay attention to the sky, a portion of which is one of the landing paths for the “smaller” commercial jetliners. One would come cruising by about every four minutes. I noticed that, once I decided to keep an eye on them, I could also hear every one of them. Obviously, I have blocked out the sound of all but the noisiest of aircraft. I decided to look skyward a couple nights with an eye toward seeing how many planes are up there at any given time. One night, there were more planes visible than there were stars.

I was reminded of the eeriness of the evening of September 11, 2001 and a few days and nights thereafter when there were NO planes in the air. Their absence was as obvious to me as a rumbling freight train would be. I got to thinking about how many people live in places in the USA where they can look skyward at any given time and never (or almost never) see a plane.

I’d have to get used to living in places like that, but I think I could.


  1. interesting. while i don’t live in a big city, we get lots of private planes, i see them fairly regularly.

    in austin, a huge part of the student neighborhood was in the flightpath of the austin airport before it moved out to the old airforce base (where you flew in). i remember the noise still, and planes haven’t flown over those homes in years.

    Comment by shoe — September 28, 2006 @ 9:56 pm

  2. It’s easy to do, Jim. Very easy.

    Comment by Craig — September 28, 2006 @ 10:17 pm

  3. places like that are beautiful…worth getting used to.

    Comment by Jean — September 29, 2006 @ 12:11 am

  4. We’re so tucked away up here in the mountains that, when we do hear one, we run outside to look! Usually it’s a small private jet heading to Elk River where the rich folks reside or a sightseeing chopper.

    Comment by Rantin' Ron — September 29, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  5. The mind blocks out whatever is routine and doesn’t constitute a threat or holds any immediate value, which allows us to focus…that’s why when you read a good book, the world fades away….

    Comment by WitNit — September 29, 2006 @ 12:34 pm

  6. When we were in the Chicago burbs, there were constant planes overhead. When we walked at night, you could see them lined up for landing at O’Hare generally about 6-10 deep, not counting the planes in holding patterns.

    The 4 days after Sept 11th were definitely eerie – as were the next several months while O’Hare ramped back up to “normal”. For those 4 days, the only planes in the sky were the 2 fighter jets that made a constant patrol very VERY high – you could just barely see their lights blinking. There were rumors that there were at least 3 of them and one was flying without lights.

    I was surprised at how much I missed the planes when they were suddenly gone. Where we are now is very quiet. We get a few – very few – planes overhead. But we aren’t on any approach to Logan, so the planes we see most are those up at altitude headed (probably) for Europe. I do kinda miss all the air traffic that Chicago had. It was comforting… as long as it wasn’t a honking big airline flying low and noisy at 4am directly over my house…

    Comment by Teresa — September 29, 2006 @ 6:37 pm

  7. From my former home under the Morris County airport approach and near the Morristown Hospital (helicopters, ya know) and also within hearing and sight of the Newark approaches, I could sometimes see (and hear) a dozen or more planes in the skies at one time.

    Now I’m temporarily in my SW Adirondacks cabin and I might–might–see one plane an our flying out of Albany or maybe Boston heading to Chicago (I guess). During the weekend afternoon I might–might–see one small Piper or maybe a Cesna heading further north.

    And no humming of tires on the highway either. The blacktop stops at my driveway and the “road” ends a quarter mile into the woods.

    Almost heaven.

    Comment by joated — September 29, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

  8. Jim, when I started reading your post I immediately thought of the absence of planes in the days after 9/11. It’s still with me, the strangeness of the absence, and the strangeness of the return of the planes. To this day, I get edgy when I notice any plane that’s not exactly on the approach or take-off path where I expect it to be.

    Comment by Shamrock — September 29, 2006 @ 7:40 pm

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