One day, I will be killed in the skies over Texas. It will not be surprising to me. Three trans-Texas flights this year, with 3 near misses. It's not a coincidence anymore.
Enroute from Phoenix to Atlanta on Sunday, We were swinging a wide arc to the south to avoid a thunderstorm over Abilene (the same system that headed to SW Missouri and wiped out Joplin) when the pilot put on the "fasten your seat belt" sign. Flight attendants all sat down, and it got a little bumpy. I turned off my laptop to preserve the hard drive. No biggie, the turbulence went away mercifully and quickly for a pleasant change. Then, as we passed the storm, the seat belt sign went off, and I resumed working on emails with my work computer. In a Twilight Zone moment, I saw something flash out of the corner of my eye outside. I looked to see a Gulfstream (G4 I think) jet, and it's contrail, Not Even TWO HUNDRED FEET BELOW us, on a course that was just 10 degrees off of a head-on-collision with DL1746!! The sun was setting behind us and to the port side slightly, and the G4 was heading directly into the setting sun, so it's raised tail section reflected spectacularly into my 2A window seat. It passed by so fast (at a relative 1150 mph, our easterly 600 mph and the G4's westerly 550 at cruising altitude) that I did not get the plane's tail ID number (N_ _ _ _), but it was at least a 6 window-panes per side plane, slightly swept back wings, no wing-tip vertical turbulence reducers .. so maybe it was an older model for an aging millionaire. As I looked back at the receding plane off the port side, we entered the smaller jet's wake turbulence for a moment of bumping.
This is a disturbing trend over Texas, where it appears air traffic controllers don't want to "in fringe" on any pilot's right to fly as close to any other pilot's plane, or to scare the crap out of observant passengers. We were at 35,000 feet cruising altitude, so any collision would have likely resulted in a massive dive - controlled or uncontrolled - and the likely death or injury of many passengers in the aging Delta 757-200 in which I was traveling. A least he smaller private plane would have been obliterated, so the world would have had one fewer Texas millionaires / billionaires.
1 year ago