Close Encounter

No this does not have anything to do with aliens…

Ok, last march I was flying from KDAY to KDFW on AA. En route, we almost became too acquainted with a Northwest aircraft. We must have been no farther than 100 feet below them when they flew over us. I could read the tail number. How far away are you supusta be from the nearest aircraft at cruising altitude? I thought it was 3 miles but not for sure. If you have any “Close Encounters” share them.

I think this is in the right topic.

I was on a flight coming home from getting out of the Army (18 years ago). I think it was a flight from SEA to DFW; I had a window seat and was looking out and noticed what I could distinctly make out to be a DC-10 waaaaay out in the distance. It looked like we were at about the same altitude, but the traffic appeared to be just a weee bit higher and we appeared to be traveling at a 90-degree difference in headings. The traffic did NOT appear to move position in my view, and I knew from having taken flying lessons that that was a BAD thing! I don’t know whether I first spotted it 10 minutes ahead of time, or if it was three minutes… It seemed like a long time. I just remember the whole time, the thing never moved position in my window and I thought about writing a note for a flight attendant to take to the captain to alert him to the traffic - but Shirley Roger would roger Victor’s vector for us to move away from one another. I became more and more anxious as we continued to be on what appeared to be a crash-course, and as we moved ever closer, I continued wondering whether I should’ve written the note, or If I should try to alert someone now. I just sat there passively as I awaited my possible demise.

I do not remember what airline the traffic was. I just remember in the final moments, the only comfort that I had was that we were indeed a little bit lower than the other plane and that as I expected possible impact, we were only struck by its enormous shadow!

…and my thoughts at that moment were, “I’ll bet the pilots are thinking, ‘What the F…?’”

I vow that if I’m ever presented with a similar situation, I’m gonna DEFINITELY send a message to the captain because Roger and Victor may both be asleep in that critical moment, and we may not be so lucky the next time.

With RVSM, you can be as close as 1,000 vertically while travelling in opposite directions, and 2,000 while travelling in the same direction.

If you had been close to a collision, you probably would have taken evasive action due to a TCAS warning. But I highly doubt it was anything close to that.

In my case, I’m debating in my mind whether we had 100 foot vertical separation, or less! I dunno… could’ve been maybe 200 feet, but I doubt it. It certainly wasn’t any 1,000 feet! This was 18 years ago (1988) before the days of TCAS.

Yeah, the plane in the distance then it just came closer and closer. I was pretty scared when we became very close.

Just today, we were cruising at FL350, and out of no where a UA NC 744 appears under the plane, going the opposite direction. Pretty neat. :smiley: