(meteorobs) Re: Odd "vortex" cloud photo

    I forwarded your photo to the MIAC list and received this spectacular
image back from Professor John Rucklidge, University of Toronto.
Ed Majden

Subject: [MIAC-L] Re: Odd "vortex" cloud photo

> Ed's clouds reminded me of a photo that was circulating on the internet
> recently, which some of you may not have seen.  I have posted it at
> http://home.istardot ca/~astimex/wowboom.jpg.  The following is a
> description of the events surrounding it, but do not be put off by it -
take a
> look.
> John
> Through the viewfinder of his camera, Ensign John Gay could see the A/F18
> from the sky as it headed toward the port side of the Aircraft Carrier
> Constellation at 1,000 feet. The pilot increases his speed to 750 mph,
> flickering off the curved surfaces of the plane. At the precise moment of
> breaking the sound barrier, 200 yards from the carrier, a circular cloud
> around the Hornet. With the Pacific Ocean just 75 feet below the aircraft
> rippled by the aircraft's pass, Gay hears the explosion of the sonic boom
> snapped his camera shutter once. "I clicked the same time I heard the boom
> I knew I had it." What he had was a technically meticulous depiction of
> sound barrier being broken on July 7, 1999, somewhere on the Pacific
> Hawaii and Japan. Sports Illustrated, Brills Content, and Life ran the
> The photo recently took first prize in the science and technology division
> the World Press Photo 2000 contest, which drew more than 42,000 entries
> worldwide. Because Ensign Gay is a member of the military he was
ineligible for
> the cash prize. "In the last few days, I've been getting calls from
> about it again. It's very humbling." Gay, 38, manages a crew of eight
> to take intelligence photographs from the high-tech belly (TARPS POD) of
> F-14 Tomcat. In July, Gay had been part of a Joint Task Force Exercise as
> Constellation made its way to Japan.  Gay used his personal Nikon 90 S,
set his
> 80-300 mm zoom lens on 300 mm, his shutter speed at 1/1000 of a second and
> aperture at F5.6. "I put it on full manual," Gay said. "I tell young
> photographers who are into automatic everything, you aren't going to get
> shot on auto.  The plane is too fast. The camera can't keep up."  At sea
> a plane had to exceed 741 mph to break the sound barrier.  The change in
> pressure as the plane outruns all of the pressure and sound waves in front
> it is heard on the ground as an explosion - the sonic boom. The pressure
> condenses the water in the air as the jet passes these waves. Altitude,
> speed, humidity, the shape and trajectory of the plane - all affect the
> breaking of the barrier. On July 7 everything was perfect. "You see vapor
> flicker around the plane.  It gets bigger and bigger, then BOOM - it's
> instantaneous. One second the vapor cloud is there, the next it's gone."
> John Rucklidge

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