What's the Highest Contrail You've Taken a Photo Of?

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
20161009-143241-skgcf.jpg

I just snapped this image of a jet at 45,000 and it made me wonder what the highest plane is I've ever taken a photo of. 45,000 is quite high, but not unprecedented.

There are 45 jets currently in the air at 45,000 or above
20161009-143618-8t6bq.jpg

But only 6 at 47,000, and none (currently) above 47,000
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
My too. Like your case, it was a Raytheon Sentinel R1 (modified Bombardier Global Express)
https://www.metabunk.org/photos-of-...t-you-took-yourself.t1487/page-15#post-149423 and two following posts, #592 and #594. It was a rare occasion when it was tracked on FR24 as GLEX (Bombardier Global 6000), therefore its altitude was known. In most cases the RAF Sentinels are not on FR24, but they usually practice above 42,000 ft.

https://www.metabunk.org/photos-of-...t-you-took-yourself.t1487/page-21#post-180538
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I just snapped this image of a jet at 45,000 and it made me wonder what the highest plane is I've ever taken a photo of. 45,000 is quite high, but not unprecedented.

No, it is not unprecedented. I've searched flickr for 'FL450' and found quite a few pictures of jets leaving contrails at this altitude. The most of them were private or business jets, but one was a cargo B747:
LX-RCV (Over Menorca) by TheWaldo64, on Flickr
Its altitude is verified by the planefinder.net playback (Menorca, May 25, 2016, 08:22 UTC)

I also have found two contrail pictures for 'FL470' in Google Images, one of GLF5 (I-DEAS), the other of GLF6 (VH-LUY), but I was not able to locate them on planefinder.net to verify their altitudes.

Of the passenger planes, the highest flyer is probably Boeing 787 Dreamliner that often cruises at 43,000 ft. I can see three of these on FR24 right now flying over Asia.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
And just looking back through my screenshots, this was two days earlier (28 Sept 2015).

IMG_5211.jpg

Identified on Planefinder:

upload_2016-10-10_13-55-29.png
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Interestingly there's a significant difference between Calibrated Altitude and GPS altitude in this guy (nor photo, just found it on FR24)
20161010-100102-hxjy1.jpg

Calibrated 47,000, GPS 49,000

I wonder if this error is consistent and something to do with the unusual altitude or is it a local abberation? "Calibrated" altitude would derived from the air pressure, and is set using a standard ground reference of 29.92 for planes above FL180. The pressure at sea level there is actually around 30.1, but that does not seem too unusual.

To the topic, probably if the planes above were reporting GPS altitude then it would be higher that FL450, so if we are comparing two planes, we can't really compare Calibrated on one vs. GPS on the other.
 
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