Beautiful Noise

usaf_c-5_galaxy_engine

By Landmark9254 Creative Commons

Close your eyes for 15 seconds and just listen. Did you hear any airplanes? I did. I hear them all the time. You’d think I’d get used to them or that I’d tune them out but I don’t. In fact, I LOVE the sound of airplanes! No, I can’t tell a GE engine from a Rolls Royce but I know what awesome sounds like – it sounds like 140+ commercial flights each day with a bunch of GA mixed in! (Well OK, awesome REALLY sounds like a C-5 screaming past as it takes off, but sadly we don’t have any of those at my airport, so cut me some slack.)

IMG_3601At My Desk

I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t a teeny bit disappointed on my first day at the airport when I discovered that my desk isn’t near a window. Then as I was getting settled in I heard a muffled roar. And then after a bit I heard it again. And then again. And then I realized the south runway was just outside the department and the muted thunder I was hearing was the sound of airplanes taking off and landing. Sweet!!! Maybe I couldn’t see airplanes from my desk, but hearing them was just as cool!

IMG_1440What Time Is It?

There are three gates outside my office – one usually hosts Airbuses (A320s mostly), one handles RJs and you can often find MD-80s parked at the third. I don’t always notice the Airbuses coming and going. I think its because that gate is a bit farther away from where I sit. I do notice the RJs though. One in particular has an APU that has such a high-pitched whine it makes my teeth hurt. (Fortunately I haven’t heard that one in awhile.)

There is, however NO mistaking the sound of the mighty Maddog pulling up to the gate. I can hear it coming from the far end of the airfield, quiet at first but then louder and whinier and louder and whinier… “wheeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.” God I love that sound! No, really! The only thing better than hearing it taxi to the gate is hearing it take off. It sounds rather like a mini space-shuttle launch. Well, OK – maybe not THAT loud, but you get the idea

IMG_1445There are several MD-80s that come and go during the day. There’s an early morning flight that usually departs around the same time I get to the office. Another arrives around 10am-ish and another shows up around 3pm. They’ve become such a part of my routine that if I don’t hear them I become completely confused about what time it is. Hey American Airlines, do you have any idea what your devious scheme to retire the Maddogs will do to me? I may never get to a meeting on time again and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT! Not long ago operations did some concrete repair on the ramp and the Maddogs had to go elsewhere for a week. It was hell. Would someone make an alarm clock with MD-80 sounds, please?!?!

IMG_4822At the Run-Up Wall

We are fortunate to not only have the south runway within earshot of my department, but there’s a run-up wall right outside. Airplanes pull up next to the wall to test their engines. The wall blocks the sound from traveling across the airfield and bothering the neighbors. Thankfully, it does not stop the sound from traveling right to me. Some of the regional airlines have maintenance facilities at my airport and they are the ones who use the wall the most. Every time I hear that breathy roar of a plane running its engines I find an excuse to sneak over to the window and snap a pic. I have about a hundred million pictures of RJs at the wall. Equally fun are the propeller planes. Buuuuzzz buzzz bizzz bzzz bzzzz bzzzz!!!!! They sound like flies caught in a spiderweb, only a million times more excellent!

IMG_1504Up top

Of course airplanes generally sound their best during take-off and landing. The aforementioned Airbus, while relatively quiet at the gate, has a delightfully buzzy, growl on take-off. Many of the bizjets are deceptively loud. “Awww, look at cute little jet! It’s taking off now and… OH MY GOD MY EARS ARE BLEEDING!!!!  How can such an awesomely huge noise could come from such small engines?

IMG_3696Probably one of my most epic airplane noise moments happened earlier this summer. For months I had been stalking a P-51 that stays in a hangar at my airport. I once caught a glimpse of it hiding behind another plane, but was unable to get a good look at it. Then one day as I stepped out onto the top level of the parking garage I heard the unmistakable sound of a WWII airplane firing up its engine. I sprinted across the parking garage like a mad woman and sure enough, there was the Mustang taxiing right in front of me. I screamed. I jumped up and down. I excitedly pointed it out to a lady who was standing there. She looked at me as if I was completely possessed and quickly hurried her children away. Whatever. I not only got to see the long-sought Mustang right there in front of me, but I got to watch (and listen to) it take off as well. Two words: Total. Awesomesauce.

IMG_2810Noise Monitoring

I’ve been told that not everyone likes noisy airplane engines. I’m sorry… what? How is that even possible? However, since these people apparently do exist, my airport has a noise abatement program which includes things like sound proofing nearby homes, installing noise monitoring equipment, blah, blah, blah.  I’ve got a better idea.  I think they should give me the CEO’s house, which is located right next to the north runway. (And I do mean right next to it. Most people have a street address – she has taxi instructions.) From there I will monitor the noise levels and contact airlines as needed.  “Dear Southwest Airlines, Flight 3597 which departed from my airport last Tuesday night was unacceptably quiet. You can do better! Thanks for your cooperation.”

 

 

10 thoughts on “Beautiful Noise

  1. I’ve been following you for several months now and this has been my favorite post yet! I’m a stay-at-home mom who just discovered aviation a few years ago and LOVE it! I’ve been fortunate to find a couple friends who take me flying in their small planes. It drives my husband and kids nuts. We are in the flight path for many planes coming and going from KATL. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve run outside to see what type of plane just flew over!

    Thanks for an awesome read and for letting me know I’m not the only female that does this!

    Kerry

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for reading Kerry! Always nice to connect with another female avgeek. You are definitely not alone! Living in the flight path for ATL sounds really cool! I’d be running outside all the time too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Jen! I work about 8 nautical miles north of my home airport. I don’t get to hear takeoffs & landings, but my office is situated such that when the wind is favoring runway two-seven, most of the King Airs, and even the single pistons, that are coming form the north and setting up for a midfield crosswind fly right over the office. Most of my cube-mates have gotten used to me getting up several times throughout the day and running to the window, then running back to my desk and pulling up FlightAware to see which plane it is or where it’s coming from. It’ll never get old.

    One of the coolest takeoffs I’ve seen and heard, there’s a Mitsubishi MU-2 based at our field, N700DA. Got to see and hear him take off one morning when I was out to fly the 150. What a unique and awesome plane the MU-2 is! There’s just something about the sound of a turboprop plane. I absolutely love it. I love all of them really lol. I’ll always be a kid when it comes to planes.

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    • Thanks so much for reading Brian! Obviously I can relate to running ro the window to see what’s outside. I’m not familiar with the MU-2 – will definitely have to do a little research! And I’m totally with you on feeling like a kid. I am the exact same way!

      Like

  3. I could not agree more. I regularly crane my neck to look at airplane, even when I am driving which can be a little scary.

    There are also few sounds so beautiful as that of a P-51 cruising around.

    I do have one correction for you though. The C-130 sounds way cooler than a C-5, especially when we throw it in reverse.

    Liked by 1 person

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