by Kieran Healy on March 4, 2007

38°13’36.38″N, 112°17’56.59″W.

_Update_: OK, sorry, so there are lots more of these.



jim 03.04.07 at 4:42 am

That’s the sound a reference makes when it’s going over my head. Would someone care to explain what we’re seeing at that location?


Kieran Healy 03.04.07 at 5:00 am

I believe it’s a plane in flight over Utah.


paul 03.04.07 at 5:05 am

Planes usually have wings, not the stubby little protuberances I see there. Looks like a missile or something similar.


Andy 03.04.07 at 5:16 am

I’m pretty sure it’s a cruise missile such as a Tomahawk.


Kieran Healy 03.04.07 at 5:18 am

I think you can make out the wings — they are quite dark relative to the fuselage.


Avram 03.04.07 at 5:20 am

I thought it was a missile too, until I looked closer. You can sort of see the wings, though they’re almost the exact same dark gray as the terrain the plane’s flying over.


Kieran Healy 03.04.07 at 5:23 am

As cool as a cruise missile would be, I think it’s an MD-80 or something similar.


Tim Bailey 03.04.07 at 5:23 am

It looks, to my eye, to be an MD-80 series or perhaps a Lear-configuration jet — with the wings clipped. It’s possible that the wings were somehow edited out automatically but the rest of the aircraft wasn’t? I have no idea how these satellite images are processed.

A cruise missile would have to be enormous to appear that size at the altitude that they generally fly.

Another clue is the two distinct vapour trails behind the object, implying a dual-engine configuration.

…I’m not an aviation expert, though, so feel free to disregard this entire post.


Tim Bailey 03.04.07 at 5:28 am

…feel free to disregard this entire post.

Er, comment. Feel free to disregard this entire comment.

Also: JINX!


Kieran Healy 03.04.07 at 5:35 am

Another clue is the two distinct vapour trails behind the object, implying a dual-engine configuration.

Also this means it’s way up high. Cruise missiles don’t fly very high.


Andy 03.04.07 at 5:48 am

Good points… darn those gray wings. :)


fyreflye 03.04.07 at 6:33 am

Obviously one of those deadly Iranian missiles on its way to nuke downtown Fresno. Or maybe our Missile Defense Shield poised to intercept it over Lodi.


Jon H 03.04.07 at 6:36 am

Aw, crap, the Brobdingnagians have cruise missiles!


Charlie Whitaker 03.04.07 at 1:40 pm

Apparently there are never fewer than 4,000 planes in flight over the US at any moment.


Adam Kotsko 03.04.07 at 4:52 pm

Did you know that if you zoom all the way out on Google Maps, it shows the whole world multiple times?


Tom T. 03.04.07 at 7:31 pm

So are there any planespotters reading this who can identify the flight? Southern Utah, daytime. White fuselage, dark wings. United? Delta?


bad Jim 03.05.07 at 11:47 am

A shadow flew across the plain.
We warriors have to explain
Why bombs with two wings
Are some of the things
We have to suppose are mundane.


worse Jim 03.05.07 at 11:50 am


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