Wingtip Vortex Audio, Boeing 757 (an ASK THE PILOT video from Patrick Smith)





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Published on Oct 31, 2011

This video accompanies an ASK THE PILOT installment written for Salon.com discussing the phenomenon of aircraft wake turbulence and the powerful, invisible vortices that are spun from an aircraft's wingtips.

As demonstrated in this footage, you can often HEAR the vortices from the ground. It's a menacing sound unlike anything you've heard.

The aircraft is a Boeing 757, approximately half a mile from landing at Boston's Logan International Airport. You begin to hear the vortices at about 0:40, and they continue pretty much to the end. Note the incredible, gunshot-like noises at time 0:57!

The video quality is ridiculously bad (shot with an iPhone), but the sound is decent and that's the important thing.


Due to an aerodynamic quirk that nobody fully understands, the very medium-sized 757 -- those examples not retrofit with vortex-reducing winglets -- produces the most powerful wake of any airplane ever recorded.

Recorded in October, 2011, at Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, just north of runway 22R at BOS. Belle Isle is the city's last remaining salt marsh, and a popular spot for birdwatchers.

For more on vortices and wake turbulence, including links to some fascinating photos, see my article here...


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