Surprise Passenger Jet Over Christian Liberty Academy on Google Maps Satellite Image


Every once in awhile the satellite camera that captures terrain images for Google maps satellite views and Google Earth satellite views catches something surprising — like an aircraft flying over the terrain subject.

Here is an image of a passenger jet flying westbound over the southern area of the football field at Christian Liberty Academy — the former Arlington High School building — at 502 West Euclid Avenue in Arlington Heights. The image was captured on April 2, 2013.

The latitude-longitude is near 42°05’20.68″ N 87°59’21.61″ W in Arlington Heights. The aircraft is likely flying in a new approach pattern that is being used at O’Hare International Airport favoring the new east-west oriented runways. In this approach, aircraft fly directly over Hawthorne Street or Euclid Avenue. The aircraft descend and approach from the area of Lake Michigan and are at an altitude of about 5,000 feet to 7000 feet while flying in air space over Arlington Heights. The aircraft continue west, turn south, and then approach eastbound over Itasca, Wood Dale, Elk Grove Village and Bensenville.

Some terrain images are actually captured from the underbelly of regular aircraft. Satellites orbit over 400 miles above the earth’s surface — over 2.2 million feet. If the jet was flying at cruising altitude, the perspective would probably enlarge the aircraft considerably compared to the school size. The ground distance that is estimated by the Google Maps tool placed equal to the wingspan width is 125 feet. If the aircraft is an MD-80, the wingspan is 107 feet. That means the aircraft image would be about 16 percent larger than an actual aircraft at ground level there. If the imaged aircraft was flying at 5,000 feet, an image from another aircraft would not have been much higher than 5,000 feet — possibly about 5,800 feet. If you have any expertise on this topic or you want to speculate anyway, add your comment on Facebook here …

There is also a reverse approach when the aircraft fly eastbound over Hawthorne Street and Euclid Avenue and turn southbound and then westbound over Chicago, Harwood Heights ad Norridge to O’Hare.

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Previously aircraft on approach often flew from northwest to southeast at a lower altitude of about 2,000 feet over Arlington Heights — landing on one of two runways that are oriented from northwest to southeast — 14L and 14R. The runways are due to close in the future, but residents just west of the airport and just east of the airport are not too happy about the new flight patterns, because a higher volume of aircraft now fly over their homes. Aircraft arriving and departing at O’Hare International Airport no longer rotate runways using the full 360 degrees of airspace because the northwest-southeast runways are already in limited use. The aircraft are now concentrated on the east and west sides of the airport with most of the low-flying aircraft noise affecting Harwood Heights, Norridge, southern Park Ridge, and Bensenville.

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