Monday, May 11, 2009

Raptor Vapors

As I mentioned, the F-22 puts on a heck of a show. If the atmospheric conditions are just right then the resulting display is awesome. "Clouds" or "vapors" form when the air pressure, which is lower and cooler on the top of the wing, drops below the point where moisture in the air condenses. It is most often seen during high "g" maneuvers, especially when the air is humid and cool like it is at coastal venues like NAS Pt. Mugu, where these shots were taken in 2007. Since high speed is not the conditional element, the fact that condensation forms does not necessarily mean the aircraft is breaking the sound barrier. I've seen condensation form on A-10 Warthogs, E-2 Hawkeyes, C-130s and airliners, none of which have been accused of being Mach-busters.

1 comment:

  1. I seem to recall a shot on the 'net of an F-18 with vapor as it swept by a mach 1+, showing the cone around the plane in vapor. It reminded me humorously of those animal cone collars to keep a cat from licking a wound or scratching its ears after a trip to the vet. In any case it is a distinctly different look than that vapor sweeping off the wing.