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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Crepuscular Rays on Thanksgiving Day

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and I hope you do, too. I'm thankful that I got off reserve at the beginning of this year and have moved close enough to the top of the seniority list that I can get Thanksgiving Day off this year.

I'm thankful that I get to fly an aircraft that has all the safety and redundancy of a transport-category airliner but still requires enough technical prowess that my skills stay challenged, and I get paid to do it. It's not as shiny as some planes, and it gets no love from passengers, but it is probably one of the all-around best airliners for its job still flying.

I'm thankful that I get to connect loved ones, get people to job interviews, and bring soldiers home. But sometimes, I'm just thankful for the quiet moments aloft; for the minutes watching a particularly glorious sunset. Sunsets from the air last longer, aren't blocked by anything, and depending on the altitude and the conditions, sometimes you can see the blaze of red and orange fade to a pale blue and then to almost black on the opposite side of the sky. On evenings like these, you can see day and night at the same time.


On days when you're really lucky, something else happens around sunset: crepuscular rays. Their same comes from the Latin for "twilight", since that's when they make their appearance. When you combine sunset with the peak of fall, the results can be spectacular:


The next one combines some rays with a perfectly-placed shadow on the ground that makes it look like the plane is casting an enormous shadow:


The next 3 I'll let you enjoy on your own.




Since another term for crepuscular rays is "Jacob's Ladder", here's a picture of what I think looks like a line of angels singing a song of the heavens:


Or it could just be the rare "jellyfish stratiform". Whatever makes you feel most thankful on this Thanksgiving day. One of the things I'm most thankful for is all of you who read Keyboard & Rudder!

If you enjoyed these, you'll also like Weather Pictures Speak a Thousand Words,  Part 1 and Part 2. Thanks for reading, and see you next Wednesday!


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The author is an airline pilot, flight instructor, and adjunct college professor teaching aviation ground schools. He holds an ATP certificate with a DHC-8 type rating, as well as CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI, and IGI certificates, and is a Master-level participant in the FAA's WINGS program and a former FAASafety Team representative. He is on Facebook as Larry the Flying Guy, has a Larry the Flying Guy YouTube channel, and is on Twitter as @Lairspeed.

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