[meteorite-list] Space junk re-entry just misses Chilean jet liner

From: AL Mitterling <almitt_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 23:47:13 -0500
Message-ID: <460C9651.6010007_at_kconline.com>

One has to just love Harvey Nininger. A man very much ahead of his time.
Though there are more aircraft in the air today, and they fly at higher
altitudes than in Nininger's time, there are also many more automobiles
these days. Best!


Nininger Moment #17 - Air Pilots and Meteor Hazards

During Nininger's time a number of airpilots reported having to take
evasive steps to prevent collisions with falling meteors. One such
newspaper reported an startling account of how a resourceful pilot
battled a shower of meteors by making a serious of dips and swerves to
avoid the incoming falling meteors saving himself, his eleven
passengers, as well as the aircraft. One other pilot was said to have
dipped his right wing to avoid a similar collision of a meteor which
happened in Nebraska. Yet another pilot near Cheyenne Wyoming said he
narrowly escaped injury when en-countering one of those pestiferous
fiery projectiles which threaten to side swipe him from the left. He
"ducked", however and the missile sailed by, leaving him unharmed.

 From the Standpoint of Nininger who had been studying meteoritic events
and falls and spending much time at it, he considered the reports
humorous at best. Nininger reasoned that there were about two thousand
times more automobiles on the ground than airplanes in the air. Meteors
reaching the lower atmosphere where these pilots saw these events would
certainly reach the ground also, yet at that time no recorded automobile
had been struck. A highly reported case happening in Crawfordville,
Indiana had been discredited by scientists who investigated the matter.
Nininger stated that you would expect one thousand automobile impacts
for every one aircraft strike.

The stories were even really more incredible for another reason.
Astronomers know that the fall of a meteor is an event most often seen
in the higher atmosphere. Only two exceptions were noted where a meteor
came closer to the ground than 4 miles. The vast majority of them
extinguishing before they come within ten miles of the ground. Nininger
stated that in other words, the meteor, or the light resulting from a
meteorite's [meteoroids] encounter with the Earth's atmosphere is
limited to the region of the stratosphere, far above any height ever
reach by airplanes of that day in ordinary flying.

Nininger knew of the fall of those cited above and concluded that the
second pilot who thought he saw the meteor below him, plotted the meteor
height at the burnout point at about 17 miles high, above the
northeastern New Mexico soil. The second pilot who saw the same meteor
fall was slightly more than a hundred miles from it at its nearest
approach. The pilot over Nebraska that dipped his wing to avoid
collision was 68 miles south of the line over which the dreaded missile
was speeding at an elevation of approximately 20 miles.

Nininger concluded that pilots are no less reliable in such matters than
are ground
observers, but the fact is that no one is able to judge the distance
from him of a bright, dazzling light. He concluded that pilots
apparently share the ignorance of the general public as the to the
behavior of meteorites. Nininger stated that hundreds of other examples
could be cited similar to the high school super- intending who told him
exactly where a meteorite had landed in the neighboring field. From
where he stood he was confident and pointed out the fall location.
Fortunately, he knew the hour and minute of the fall and gave an
eloquent description of the phenomenon, which sounded familiar to
Nininger, as the story had been told by observers from all the way where
they stood to where the meteorite had landed some 350 miles away!!!!

It is absolutely impossible for any single observer to judge the
distance of a meteor. It's location can be determine only by a crossline
survey. To this, pilots might contribute considerable information if
they would take account of their exact location upon sighting and
determine with their instruments the exact direction and altitude of the
point where the meteor vanishes. Also recording the angle of decent
would prove helpful. A pilots observation using these methods would be
more than helpful than a person on the ground without any instruments to
record what they see. Nininger also stated that at that time no report
from an airpilot had ever been used to calculate the fall of a
meteorite. He believed however that with his methods being noted that
such reports could be very valuable.

The Nininger Moments are articles or books written originally by Harvey
Nininger and put into a consolidated form by Al Mitterling. Some of the
items written in the moments might be old out dated material and the
reader is advised to keep this in mind.

--AL Mitterling

Chris Peterson wrote:

> So far, I've heard nothing to make me think that anything from space,
> natural or otherwise, came within a few kilometers of this plane. Is
> there anything to support this other than the report of the pilot?
> I've found that pilots, in general, provide some of the worst quality
> meteor reports. I'm doubtful that many pilots are capable of judging
> the distance to a meteor. Odds are, this thing actually burned up many
> kilometers above the plane.
> Chris
Received on Fri 30 Mar 2007 12:47:13 AM PDT

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