Sunday, October 08, 2006

Meteor Crater

This is a picture of the meteor crater in northern Arizona. About 50,000 years ago moving at 40,000 miles an hour, a meteor about 150 feet across weighing several hundred thousand tons, smashed into the desert floor. The explosive force has been estimated to be greater than 20 million tons of TNT. Traveling at supersonic speed, this impact generated immensely powerful shock waves in the meteorite, the rock and the surrounding atmosphere. In the air, shock waves swept across the level plain devastating all in the meteor's path for a radius of several miles. In the ground, as the meteorite penetrated the rocky plain, pressures rose to over twenty million pounds per square inch, and both iron and rock experienced limited vaporization and extensive melting. Beyond the affected region, an enormous volume of rock underwent complete fragmentation and ejection. The result of these violent conditions was the excavation of a giant bowl shaped cavity. In less than a few seconds, a crater was carved into this once flat rocky plain. During its formation, over 175 million tons of limestone and sandstone were abruptly thrown out to form a continuous blanket of debris surrounding the crater for a distance of over a mile. Large blocks of limestone, the size of small houses were heaved onto the rim. Flat lying beds of rock in the crater walls were overturned in fractions of a second and uplifted permanently 150 feet. As a result of the impact, the crater floor was 700 feet deep; it is now approximately 550. The crater is over 4,000 feet across and 2.4 miles in circumference. You can see this thing from 75 miles away at 35000 feet.

Fast forward 50,000 years to the present day, where man in his great wisdom has built beautiful cities, tackled the physical universe and conquered the skies. The meteor crater has been seen by thousands of travelers on the ground and in the sky. I often point it out to my passengers. I heard a story about a flight crew who was passing by this crater and the pilots told the passengers to look out one side of the airplane to see the crater. A curious flight attendant wanted to see the crater from the flight deck with its 180 degree view. Upon entering the cockpit the pilots showed her the crater as they were just flying by it. She stared at the crater and asked, “What are those little white squares down there?” The captain told her that they were buildings. The flight attendant in a surprised voice said, “No way are those buildings!” The pilot told her that indeed they were buildings as he had visited the crater one time. “There is a museum, an observation deck, and a snack bar along with other buildings”, the pilot said. The flight attendant was still very disbelieving, so much so that she turned to the other pilot and asked if the captain was telling the truth. The copilot said, “Yes he is, if you look closer you can see the road to the crater that comes off the interstate and look at the size of that parking lot down there. That was the location for the movie Starman; there are people and buildings all over that place.” The flight attendant said, “So you’re telling me that all those white squares down there right next to the crater are buildings and there are people in them!” “Yes!” both pilots replied. The flight attendant stared at the crater for several seconds as it went out of sight. She looked at the pilots and said, “They were so lucky!”

I cannot tell you if this is a true story or a flying urban legend, all I know is that I get a laugh every time I think about it. Be safe, FlyGuy


Blogger Tim Perkins said...

Was she blonde?

8:18 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that girl! She was the head cheerleader at my high school. She was always telling people they would get lucky.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Jrc said...

When a man portrays women as "stupid", he needs to take a long look in the mirror. He's only telling the world how he views himself.

7:07 PM  

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