Wonder Why Wednesday: Message In The Sky

I am sure we have all see the scene from a movie or television show where a man and a woman are standing in an open field and the woman seems confused as the why they are there. The music is really starting to build so you can tell something is about to happen, but what??

Before the woman can ask what they are doing there, the man smiles at her and says, “I didn’t know how to say this, so just look up.”

The woman looks to the sky and sees that an airplane has written a message in the clouds. Usually it is something romantic like “Will you marry me” or “Happy anniversary.” It always has to be something grand and dramatic. You’d never see the message “frozen pizza’s are on sale, do you mind picking up a couple next time you are at the store?”

I’ve see messages in the clouds like that in movies, but I can’t recall seeing that in real life.

Have you seen one?

Does that really happen? Is it one of those things that you are unable to see unless you are standing in that random field?

More likely, we have seen a planes leave a trail of white clouds as it flies by. Just the white streak of clouds, not a message.

Did the pilot just have nothing to say that day? I like to think that is probably similar to when I start to write a blog post but nothing comes out. Just ———–.

A few weeks ago I was stuck in traffic and happened to look up to the sky. I saw a plane flying by with a streak of white clouds behind it, but once again there was no romantic message. Just a pilot with writer’s block ————-.

That got me wondering? What is that white trail of clouds? And why don’t we see one every time a plane flies by?

That is what we will tackle on today’s Wonder Why Wednesday…

Why Do White Cloud Trails Form Behind Airplanes?

According to HowStuffWorks.com, these white clouds are called condensation trails or contrails and the reason we can see them is similar to the reason we can see our breath on cold days.

The contrail forms because one of the components of a jet engine’s exhaust is water. The water is usually released as an invisible vapor. However, when the weather is cooler, with winds and humidity in the upper atmosphere, the temperature causes the moister in the jet’s exhaust to condense, thus creating the long white contrails.

This is much the same way as to why we see our breath on cold days. Our breath contains invisible water vapor much like a jet engine. Cold air can hold less moisture than warm air, so in the winter, the cold air hitting your breath causes the moisture to condense into a visible cloud.

So there you have it. The white clouds made by airplanes have more to do with weather than a pilot that has writer’s block.

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