Queens Chronicle contributing lensman Steve Fisher of Middle Village got a little worried for a few seconds Monday morning, when he was out taking photos of this and that in the neighborhood and looked up to see what he thought might be a disaster in the making.
Two commercial jets, a Korean Air 747 and a JetBlue Embraer 190, appeared to be headed right for each other. Fisher snapped away, taking a sequence of shots in just a few seconds. It was 9:54 a.m.
But then — whew! — the two planes cleared each other and continued on their way.
Cleared each other and then some, according to Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Radar data show that the Korean Air jet was more than a mile above the JetBlue plane, flying at 15,600 feet compared to the latter’s 10,000 feet. The proximity was just an illusion.
“The information came from our radar data which shows the targets and gives their altitude,” Salac said in an email. “These types of inquiries are not uncommon when people see what they believe is two aircraft that are too close, but the perception/view from the ground is rarely accurate.”
Fisher’s third shot appears to show the tail of the Korean Air plane partially blocking the view of the tail of the JetBlue plane, but closer inspection of the photo reveals that it’s just a trick of the light. The planes were to his northwest.
“It’s hard to argue with radar data,” said a spokesman for Jim Hall, the former National Transportation Safety Board chairman who still speaks out on aeronautical issues.