As much as we find comfort in air travel, there are a lot of technicalities that still remain incomprehensible to us. For instance, do we know the logic behind dimming lights while take off or landing? Or pulling down the window screens at the same time? Or maybe, the meaning of those ”ding” sounds in flights?
If you haven’t already been to curious to find out reasons behind some of these rules followed on the aircraft, let us introduce you to some other facts about a flight which will blow your mind.
Mark Vanhoenacker, an airline pilot, recently divulged these peculiar things about landing a flight, in an article in The Telegraph.
1. Planes may point upwards when they are actually flying downwards
The nose of a plane is always pointing upwards even when the aircraft is in level flight. That’s why it is always harder to walk towards the front of the plane than it is to walk back. According to aviation.stackexchange.com., airplanes have their nose higher than the tail when landing, so that their back wheels (which generally touch the ground first) are closer to the runway.
2. Runways have incredibly complex illuminations
The lighting systems on the runway form a well-defined pattern. In fact, they can start hundreds of metres before the runway itself. The red and white lights that you see are called PAPIs (Precision Approach Path Indicators), that show pilots their position with respect to the ideal vertical path from the sky to the runway. Three white lights and one red light indicate the aircraft is slightly above the ideal path, three red lights and one white show that the plane is slightly below it. And what lights do you see for hitting the ideal path itself? Two reds and two whites.
3. Planes go through a decision process, just seconds before landing
Just when an aircraft is about to land, pilots go through what is termed as the ”decision altitude” or ”decision height.” At this point, if they are able to see the runway and its lights, they can continue the descent. Else, they must prepare to ascend again and perform an go-around.
4. Ever felt like you are resting on the ground even before landing?
This phenomenon is called the ”ground effect,” generated by the aircraft’s wings, when they are closer to the surface. Pilots often feel like they are floating above the ground surface. According to Wikipedia, this is primarily caused when the ground interrupts the wingtip vortices ( circular patterns of rotating air left behind a wing as it generates lift). The result is a lower induced drag ( aerodynamic drag force that occurs whenever a moving object redirects the airflow coming at it).