FlightAware Discussions

VERY Close Call in the air last Friday. Was this normal?!

Hey, everyone. I joined this website today in hopes that someone out there would be able access historical flight tracking data to either talk me down or validate what I thought was an extremely close call between my flight heading west bound and another plane that flew nearly under us in the opposite direction last Friday out of ORD.

DETAILS: I managed to fly out of O’Hare last Friday despite a full ground stop due to the Aurora, IL sabotage/fire on Virgin America Flight 231 bound for LAX. At approximately 10:42 am while flying at about 10,000 feet South of Galesburg, IL another airliner (possibly a 737) passed us going in the opposite direction in very close proximity to our aircraft just below and to the right of our airplane. In my shock I didn’t manage to catch the carrier.

From my vantage point looking out the window over our right wing i estimated this craft to be no farther than 600-1000 feet from our craft. Though it passed us so fast I’ll be honest that is just a guess. But all I know is that it was so close that I literally jumped back in my seat and looked around to see if anyone else had noticed. It doesn’t appear anyone else saw it. When I alerted the flight attendant she just laughed and said seeing other planes was normal. But this didn’t seem normal to me at all.

I’ve attached a photoshop composite of what I remember seeing to the best of my recollection. The photo out the window was from my actual flight but the other airplane is a digital insertion. I’d be very curious to know if anyone could look up my flight history as well as the mystery flight that passed us going Eastbound and settle the issue if that was in fact a very close call between two large commercial airliners or if it was a “safe” distance but looked scarier than it actually was.

Thanks for any help you can offer!

“Objects in airplane window may appear closer than they really are”

And that isn’t a joke. Controllers keep minimum distance between aircraft. All is well in the flying world.

Thanks for the reply. I was able to find the plane on a replay of the radar that day. Didn’t know that function existed before I got some advice on another forum. Turns out the plane that crossed under us was United 218 from St. Louis. We passed each other vertically at about 1000 feet. Which I looked that vertical distance and seems to be the normal spacing for commercial craft. But man did it look close when it whizzed by!

Remember that 1000 ft of vertical separation is all that is needed. An aircraft 1000 ft. away appears to be quite close, but vertically it is a very safe distance.

And had there been an error like that, with all the attention brought to the events at Chicago Center the other day, the internet would have exploded with the news. Probably before you landed!

And, I want to add, I’m sure the controllers who have taken over Chicago airspace are working very, very hard under professionally difficult circumstances, and they will talk about this experience for years to come.