Update: Jet flyover mystery solved

ORIGINAL POST THIS MORNING: We’ve now received about half a dozen notes on this and we’re stymied, so we’re throwing it out in hopes someone can solve the mystery: A blue-and-white private jet that flew over West Seattle, repeatedly, yesterday (we saw it once while covering the boat collision) is back this morning. Any clues? Please post a comment (or e-mail us). UPDATE AT 12:32 PM WITH MYSTERY SOLVED: Thanks to Jerry for e-mailing us with the suggestion it might be an FAA test, based on something he recalled from years back. We called the regional FAA public-affairs office, where Mike Fergus made a quick inquiry and just got back to us with confirmation: That’s an FAA plane, doing testing that he says includes instrument-landing-system testing and flight procedure testing for runways including Sea-Tac’s new third runway. He says the jet will be up again in about two hours, and that the FAA has several jets like this – all based out of Oklahoma City – that go to airports around the country for testing like this.

20 Replies to "Update: Jet flyover mystery solved"

  • Stephanie September 16, 2008 (11:04 am)

    Saw it today right over my work in Burien too. Flying low like it was around West Seattle yesterday too.

  • RobertSeattle September 16, 2008 (11:27 am)

    If you have the exact time(s), perhaps that Jet Noise monitoring site would help. ???


  • Map Geek September 16, 2008 (11:31 am)

    Aerial photography?

  • BC September 16, 2008 (11:53 am)


  • ann September 16, 2008 (11:57 am)

    I’ve heard a lot of jets over Genessee Hill today and yesterday. I was thinking they changed the flight path or something.

  • Katherine September 16, 2008 (12:18 pm)

    There were two helicopters working over the Highland Park hill area at 6:00 this morning. One hovered in place and the other one worked in a big circle around it. It was dark enough that I couldn’t see anything but the lights so I couldn’t identify what kind they were. At about 6:25 there was a slow flyover of something more towards the Alki area — I couldn’t tell if it was one of the helicopters leaving or not.

  • M September 16, 2008 (12:20 pm)

    Sunday a twin engine prop engine flew over my alki house (Lander and Campbell) VERY low, I’d say 300ft. Quite fast too. I think it was a two tone white and either blue or black (saw mostly the belly which was white)

  • VDP September 16, 2008 (12:21 pm)

    This smacks of flight training. Somebody flying big flat ovals at 1000 ft, out of Boeing Field, maybe with touch-and-go action on the runway. A motivated investigator could probably call the various jet-equipped flight centers along Airport Way: Gavin, Aeroflight, etc. Me? I’m not annoyed enough.

  • GenHillOne September 16, 2008 (12:27 pm)

    I’m with Ann – more than usual number of “Lear” jets yesterday and today. I haven’t noticed if it was the same plane or even type of plane though. I know of three (there could be more) exec. charter companies that go in and out of Boeing, but just checked their websites and none of their planes are blue & white.

  • WSB September 16, 2008 (12:29 pm)

    Katherine – the choppers were news helicopters covering two of the incidents we also have covered so far today – the house fire in 15th SW and the overturned truck just east of the low bridge. All – while writing this comment, the FAA called me back to confirm it’s testing, will update the top item momentarily.

  • WSratsinacage September 16, 2008 (12:30 pm)

    Was it a lear type jet? Last year I saw a plane that looked like a lear jet but it was a FAA jet and they were heading south basically over Harbor Island then peeling off over Genessee/Admiral. They were doing something with measuring the approach to Boeing Field. Something like that..

  • WSratsinacage September 16, 2008 (12:33 pm)

    of course, my last comment was responding to ann and above but a lot more came in after hers before I finished mine..

  • charlabob September 16, 2008 (12:50 pm)

    Thanks, WSB — you do an amazing job of finding out “what’s going on.” :-) We were trying to disagnose a power outage in burien yesterday and said, “If only this were in West Seattle…”

  • RobertSeattle September 16, 2008 (2:15 pm)

    I’m sure we’ll hear alot more, but 3rd runway will be open for business 11/20/2008.


    The 3rd runway will only be used when necessary – they’d prefer the planes to land in the two nearer to the terminal runways to save taxi time -amd even then primarily for landing.

  • Rick September 16, 2008 (2:42 pm)

    Yeah, yesterdays flyover rattled the chardonnay in my glass too. Big inconvenience. The 3rd runway will be used primarily for weather conditions but that’s never a problem here. Oklahoma City gets out team, we end up with just the noise!

  • eileen September 16, 2008 (3:31 pm)

    Does that mean once the third runway is in we’ll have this all the time? :-(

  • WSB September 16, 2008 (3:52 pm)

    No, these are semiannual/annual tests, according to the FAA.

  • Aidan Hadley September 16, 2008 (4:42 pm)

    Eileen: If you look at the new Sea-Tac runway in Google Maps and follow its centerline north you will see that the approach path for the planes will be over Georgetown and Beacon Hill, well to our east. Boeing Field approach is actually closer to us.
    I’m not sure exactly what the FAA’s test of the instrument landing system (ILS) entails. But they may have been verifying the outside limits of the ILS beacons.
    The ILS system is what guides aircraft to the runway for landing. It works with radio signals so pilots don’t have to worry about darkness or clouds obscuring the view. Picture it as a radio signal in the shape of a large cone that broadcasts out at an angle from the end of the runway. An airplane can fly into the widest part of that cone and instruments in the cockpit indicate to the pilot (or to the computers that land the plane) if they’re too high or low, or too far to the left or right. As the plane centers itself in the middle of that cone, often represented on the instruments as a horizontal and vertical needle that come together to form a cross, it is guided down the “glideslope” to the exact center of of the runway and the threshold over which the plane is to land.
    Next time you’re flying in rain, clouds, fog or darkness, be comforted that the pilots have the ILS to help them land safely.

  • JH September 16, 2008 (8:34 pm)

    Aidan sounds like one smart puppy.

  • Christopher Boffoli September 16, 2008 (10:36 pm)

    Aidan sounds like someone who knows his way around the cockpit of an airplane.

Sorry, comment time is over.