Up in the Air (Above Latham)

I can watch incoming flights at Albany International Airport from both my home and work office windows, so I’ve become pretty familiar with the types of planes that fly in and out of our airspace. I’ve particularly been enjoying watching the one above, an Air Force KC-10 Extender airborne refueling plane, making its way around our skies here lately. It’s a big, stately, surprisingly quiet and steady plane (for its size) that’s been in the area doing training missions. I’ve seen it from the University at Albany a couple of days, and from home in Latham several times. I’m like Dug the Dog when airplanes go over . . . “PLANE!” . . . so it’s nice to have something new in the sky to break my concentration every now and then.

At the flip side of that equation, a week or so ago, we came home from dinner one night to find a small plane flying in low, tight, counter-clockwise circles between our house and the Latham Circle area, pretty close to the airport. At first I assumed it in some sort of holding pattern for a few minutes before making its runway approach, but the night was relatively clear, and I could see other things coming and going, so that didn’t seem right. It was out there for about 20 minutes, at least, when I began to wonder whether some pilot had had a heart attack on approach or something, leaving his plane circling on autopilot, so that at some point it was going to drop out of the sky on us when the fuel ran out. I figured the the town police might know something, so made a clear “non-emergency” call to report and inquire and basically got a “don’t know, don’t care” answer. Hmm. I then called the airport information office, and they said they were aware of the “police operations” going on in the sky over Latham. Alright then. The plane finally turned toward the airport and landed ten minutes or so later. No clue what sort of operation it was really engaged in.

While I love seeing the KC-10 up above us, if I could look to the sky and pick the planes I’d most like to see, it would be the Saab JA-37 Viggen. PLANE!!!!

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