enroute a/c with flashing white light


#1

i’m not too far from a local regional airport, KYNG. on june 8 at appx 420a eastern i saw a high flying aircraft flying in a northeasterly direction with what i think is a ground taxi light flashing. note, this was not a wing tip strobe, as it had the intensity and look of a landing light and seemed to positioned somewhere towards the front of the a/c and appeared to be pointing downward. i watched it as it passed overhead, and just prior to passing overhead the crew switched this light off.

two questions:

can an archived flightaware airport activity screen, in this case for KYNG, june 8, 420a be accessed to see what flight i saw?

is it a common practice for commercial a/c to utilize this light when at cruise altitude?

thanks,
gppilot


#2

Sounds like the plane you were looking at was equipped with a belly strobe.

Allen


#3

Curious…Would a belly strobe be white? I know typically the belly “beacons” are red…hmmmmm


#4

I’d imagine the belly beacon would be white to attract attention from aircraft down below. The rotating taxi beacon is meant to attract attention in the 2d environment of a terminal.


#5

I have a question connected with this topic. On commercial jets I usually see a steady, circular, white light located on the side of the aircraft forward of the wing and under the window level. It isn’t a landing light, as it doesn’t point forward at all. What is the purpose of this light?


#6

Sounds like a the turn off light- designed to light the area to the left or right of an aircraft to aid in turning on the ground. Here is a good rundown of the typical lights installed on an commercial aircraft (with a nice pic of a 737 to Illustrate)


#7

Thanks jreeves. Airliners are sure lit up bright, moreso than I initally realized. I’m lucky if the rentals I fly have lights (or ones that work for that matter).


#8

Actually the light he described sounds more to me like the wing inspection light. Many many aircraft have a light, sometimes mulitple lights aimed at one or both wings to allow the crew to visually inspect the wing. most often this is used to check for ice accumulation but can also come in handy to check the position of flaps, slats, or even to check for smoke/oil/damage on the engines.
Also, from the initial description of the flashing white light. It sounds to me like the runway turnoff lights. Some 737’s (and others I’m sure) have a switch which causes the turnoff lights to flash back and forth in sequence, R, L, R, L etc to make the airplane more conspicuous. I’ve only seen this on Southwest’s airplanes but that doesnt mean others don’t have it either. If viewing the airplane from the ground from anything other than straight-on you would only see one of these lights. Also, you said they switched it off just as they passed overhead, it might have just been the wing and/or the engine getting between you and the light; or they could have reached 18,000ft, where alot of aircraft switch off extraneous lights.
ALSO, (I’m almost done, I swear) you didnt say what kind of aircraft you think it was, but many small airplanes have flashing landing lights too. Older 172s and 182s had two lights under the spinner, and some airplanes flash these in sequence also. If one was burnt out (very likely in cowl-mounted lights) you would only see one light flashing.
There. I’m done.

-J-


#9

Could be a couple of things. Could have been one side of a pulselight system as cfijames pointed out. Also, Lots of Kingairs have clear rotating beacon lenses so the light would be white and pulse regularly.