1. 8x10

    8x10 New Member

    Hi. Just found your forum, while looking up airplane lights. I saw something last night, that I have never seen before. Maybe someone here can help. We like to sit in our backyard in the evening. About 9:30 last night, I heard a jet going over. Nothing unusual about that, but I casually looked up. The lights on it were very strange. There were no wingtip lights, and there was a row of lights along the belly, from nose to tail. Probably 6 to 8 of them. One close to the center was blinking. Can anyone explain what I saw? New light configuration? Military plane? Thanks.
  2. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Could you possible draw a diagram of what you saw?
  3. 8x10

    8x10 New Member

    Other than the row of lights, there is really nothing to draw. I could not see anything. It was quite dark. Could not see the outline of a plane. I only heard the normal sound of a jet, and saw this sting of lights. They looked just like normal airplane lights. Except in a straight line down, I assume, the belly. I'm slightly colorblind, so I can't tell you what color they were, and my wife didn't see it until they were moving off. I don't know. Maybe a jet with no lights was trailing a string of lights?
  4. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    What's your location?
  5. 8x10

    8x10 New Member

    Springfield MO, and the plane was headed northwest.
  6. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    If you held something in your hand at arms length, what object would be just big enough to completely cover the thing you saw in the sky

    -aspirin tablet
    -golf ball

    Imagine pointing to the object. When you first saw it would you be pointing
    -straight up
    -straight ahead
    -halfway between straight up and straight ahead
    -Somewhere in between the three

    Same thing for when you lost sight of it. Where would you be pointing?

    How many seconds went by from when you first saw it and then lost sight of it?
    • Like Like x 2
  7. 8x10

    8x10 New Member

    At arm's length, I would say it was golf ball size when I first saw it. Was just past straight up, saw it for probably 1 minute. It was flying northwest, lost sight of it when it went below our roof line. Probably 2/3 the way to the horizon. Also, the jet sound went along with it. I was not hearing a different plane.
  8. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    It seems it was moving quite slowly. A single jet aircraft would have to be fairly close to be golf ball sized, yet it took a minute to cross a relatively small part of the sky.
  9. 8x10

    8x10 New Member

    I may be guessing a bit long. We see lots of jets flying over here. It seemed to be going about the right speed. So I have no doubt about it being a large jet. Just an odd light pattern.
  10. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
    • Useful Useful x 2
  11. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    Yes, I've thought of that. But there are problems. The object was reported to be moving northwest. Which is not possible for the Starlinks - (and pretty much any satellite). This satellite train was initially reported to be 5 to 8 degrees in apparent length and they were magnitude +4 to +5; but have been maneuvering and are now more spread out and dimmer. Pretty dim now. Might have been just a segment of the line.

    No reported fireballs meet the bill. There was a pretty good display of re-entering space junk over Florida, but wrong time and wrong direction.

    Been ruminating about blimps and long bodied helicopters... nah.

    So far I'm stuck on wondering if the object was actually a line of aircraft flying much higher than perceived.

    Or... and this will probably stick in the craw... a line of birds.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
  12. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

  13. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    we've had several members report things but it turned out their direction was wrong. Not saying that is the case here, but we really don't have much to go on.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  14. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    I didn't realize you can't get historical records on that site. Doesn't matter. The Starlink sats are too spread out now to be a viable candidate.

    Here they are on the Heavens Above site:

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
  15. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    I should respond directly to you. Sorry, the best I can do is to guess you saw not a single aircraft but more than one aircraft. They were flying in a row and were higher than you thought. A kind of optical illusion. Connect the dots. The high altitude would explain the relatively slow progress across the sky. This is a common optical illusion in a dark, featureless sky.

    Maybe military aircraft.
  16. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    String of lights... do you live near an airport ?
    Could it have been passenger cabin window lights ? ...along with the blinking white "anti-collision" lights ?
    Could it have been a smaller private corperate jet ?

    Could it be you heard a jet, but saw a helicopter ?

    ...or ariel advertisements ?....

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
  17. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

  18. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    For passenger cabin window lights being seen, the aircraft has to be flying low and banking toward the observer. A small number of windows would suggests a small aircraft, like a bizjet. This hypothesis is testable, and, if I got the date right, there was a good candidate: Cessna 525A N586FD landed at Springfield Airport on July 1, 2019 at 21:34 local time
    [​IMG]N586FD by MARK OLLIER, on Flickr
    Screenshot 2019-07-04 at 09.20.21.

    The aircraft track KML file from FlightAware is attached.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  19. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    It would have to be very close to match the reported angular size. Which means the apparent speed would be much faster than reported, which is rather slow.

    I'm leaning toward in-flight refueling of another large aircraft. The reported angular size was golf ball at arms length, which would be consistent with two large aircraft at high altitude. The high altitude is more consistent with the slow apparent speed.

    KC-46 refueling B-52

    There are numerous lights on the bottom of this KC-46


    There would also be lights on the other plane. Giving the impression of a single long line of lights.

    This B-2 has lights on the top which are illuminating the bottom of this KC-135 [​IMG]

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  20. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    I looked at air traffic over that area on Flightradar24 and Planefinder.net, using their playback as well. Springfield MO is at the crossing of several busy routes and therefore is an unlikely location for air-to-air refuelling.
  21. I'm somewhat skeptical of that being possible. I've seen a lot of planes landing at KDCA while sitting in traffic on 395. If you're on 395 just west of the bridges, you're right in line to have a square look into the cabin windows when they make the last turn to line up with Runway 19 at barely 500 feet and less than a mile from your car. I can't recall having ever seen a row of cabin lights.
  22. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    It is not surprising, as aviation regulations require cabin lights on passenger flights being switched off before landing. I do not know if this applies to private jets. I've seen a row of cabin lights on empty planes ferried to our airport (EGSC) for service, from outside they look dim compared to the external lights.
    Screenshot 2019-07-05 at 08.12.43.

    Source: https://youtu.be/v_vxTDOevAA

    Again, on a small private jet they may look differently
  23. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member


    Pilot Director Lights


    On a KC-135

    I think this matches the OP's description pretty well.

    The white lights are steady and the colored lights blink on and off in a pattern to give the pilot "positional and trend information."

    The array is not all the way from nose to tail, but I think this is within typical eyewitness memory of brief events.

    I'm not really satisfied with this, but I think we're at the end of the road here.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
    • Like Like x 1