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A New Twist On Skywriting 149

Posted by kdawson
from the air-apparent dept.
Nugget writes "The advent of Internet-based flight tracking technology enables an entirely new kind of skywriting. Gulfstream Aerospace sent up one of their $50M business jets today on an 8.5-hour test flight spanning 11 states for the sole purpose of leaving their mark on the Net in the form of a flight track that spells out 'GV' (the nickname of the Gulfstream V aircraft being flown) when viewed online."
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A New Twist On Skywriting

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  • Someone (Score:5, Funny)

    by giorgiofr (887762) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:00AM (#17918770)
    Someone give these guys something to do, STAT! :D
    • Re:Someone (Score:5, Funny)

      by AxminsterLeuven (963108) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:05AM (#17918818)
      How about "Aliens Attack Here -->" across a hemisphere you don't like?
    • by LukeyJunk (620483)
      Or at least tell them they could just use Paint and save themselves some time and effort...
  • by jimmoores (87214) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:01AM (#17918786)
    At a time when global warming is ruining our climate, this is obscene.
    • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:11AM (#17918862)
      You seem to forget that the private jets of $500,000+ salaried business executives use special Toorichtogiveashit patented non-global warming fuel unlike the economy class "Two or three times a year" passenger planes we prolls fly on.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by keesh (202812)
      Yes, because this makes a huge difference. It's good to see you complaining about things that matter, rather than attacking small irrelevant wastage.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Instine (963303)
        "small irrelevant wastage."
        Like you? I mean literally. You are unlikely to make a difference right? Who ever you are. So why bother right? One More SUV is hardly going to kill the planet. Not switching you crap off before going to bed - Buying your power from a company useing or investing heavily in renewables... None of it is going to make a noticable change right?
        Fuck whit.
        • by xQx (5744)
          Baah! Who cares!

          Global warming won't hurt us, it'll hurt our children.

          I don't have children, and I hate your children.

          I get to drive an big, comfortable SUV and I know it's hurting those screaming annoying fat little children you lot seem to care so much about. Really it's win-win.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by digitalsushi (137809)
      "On a New York-to-Denver flight, a commercial jet would generate 840 to 1,660 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger. That's about what an SUV generates in a month." -- http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2006-12-18 - jet-pollution-usat_x.htm [usatoday.com]

      NYC to Denver: 1629 miles -- http://www.angelfire.com/md2/timewarp/cursortrail. html [angelfire.com]

      "4508 09322 GEP DPR RECAP MLS LWT BZN DBS FFU HVE RSK ALS PUB DVV RLG DVV PUB TBE LAA SNY RAP LBF ANY OVR HARPI" -- well I don't know how many miles that is. Cheers,
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "4508 09322 GEP DPR RECAP MLS LWT BZN DBS FFU HVE RSK ALS PUB DVV RLG DVV PUB TBE LAA SNY RAP LBF ANY OVR HARPI" -- well I don't know how many miles that is.

        That route is 3871.5 nautical miles according to DUATS.
      • by bshroyer (21524) <bret&bretshroyer,org> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @10:37AM (#17920462)
        It's not as bad as you make it out to be - if you imagine the average SUV-driving commuter has a 20-mile one-way commute, 20 days per month, that's 800 miles. On a "pounds CO2 per passenger per mile"** basis, commercial jet travel is quite efficient. In other words, that same SUV would produce twice as much CO2 if it were driven from NYC to Denver.

        In today's age, a better question is whether it's really necessary to go to Denver. There's still a lot of unneeded business travel going on, when voice- or video-conference would work just as well.

        (** quite possibly the worst, non-SI unit of measure I've ever used)
        • by ShieldWolf (20476)
          You seem to have missed the point that the jet had no passengers (other than the pilots) and that it wasn't doing anything useful in the air. It's like I drove the same route they did and didn't stop to see the sites or do anything at all and then when home. Both scenarios are a wicked waste of fuel.
          • by AusIV (950840)
            Yes, it's wasteful to make pointless flights like this, but the great-grandparent to this post made it sound like you should take your SUV from New York to Denver rather than flying, and cited articles to that effect. Taking a plane from New York to Denver is more efficient than taking an SUV, and the grandparent was trying to set the record straight on that. They also addressed unnecessary travel as wasteful. If anyone missed the point, it was the great-grandparent, who suggested plane flight in general is
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drew (2081)
          Ah, but if you video conference to a meeting in Denver, you can't go skiing after it's over.
        • by NateTech (50881)
          Yeah, we're sick of everybody coming here anyway... stay home if you're planning on moving here.

          If you'd like to visit to ski, then you're okay. We like your money.

          If you're going to move here, get rid of the BMW and learn to drive in the damn snow.

          Disclaimer: I work for a company that builds conferencing equipment and I live in Denver.)
        • You would have gotten extra points for "pounds of CO2 per passenger-kilometer" though... or maybe "grams per passenger-foot"?
    • by CharlieG (34950)
      Yep - about 75K lbs of CO2 for that stunt - or the equivilent of driving 3 SUVs for a full year
    • by deadweight (681827) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @10:04AM (#17920102)
      Can we assume that you never do anything like drive your car to the movies. If you do, you are spewing C02 when you could just wait for a Netflix DVD to come to your door. Everyone who NEVER uses any kind of fossil-fuel provided energy to do ANYTHING not absolutely life-or-death, please go track down the Gulfstream owner and do your CO2 rant. The rest of you shut the fuck up.
      • Furthermore, there's no telling how much money this never-been-done-before advertising was worth. It may have cost us xxyy in CO2, however an alternative, spending $2 000 000 for 30 seconds of superbowl commercial space [an arbitrary guess], may have cost us 4xxyy in CO2 between the time and gas spent creating the commercial, and all the energy wasted running everybody's televisions those 30 seconds, etc.
      • by jimmoores (87214)
        The point is that the amount of CO2 that can be produced without making Global warming worse is limited. That means that we have to share that 'carbon budget' amongst everyone on the planet. In short though - we don't.

        I live in Britain, and we're not the best, but we're about twice as efficient per capita as the US and we're one of the few countries on course to meet it's Kyoto targets.

        And I do personally try to make a difference. I've fitted low energy light bulbs to about 3/4 of the lights, I've got ro
        • There are good ways and bad ways to reduce C02. The best way, IMHO, is a tax on carbon containing fuels. I bet if gas was $5/gallon in the USA the average efficiency of our cars would go way up. The worst way, IMHO, is for some bunch of green-Nazis to form a committee and decide what is an acceptable use of fuel and what is not. I guess being a pilot makes me sensitive to this more than most people. Obviously a few people here would love to prohibit flying a G-V just for fun. My plane holds only about 50 ga
        • by mollymoo (202721)

          Heck, breathing produces CO2, even dying produces CO2. The point is to minimize unnecessary production.

          No, the problem is not CO2 production. Breathing and dying only release CO2 which was extracted from the atmosphere very recently. That kind of CO2 production is cyclic and averages out to nothing in a short (in planetary terms) period. It's CO2 production from sources which have been locked up in the Earth's crust for hundreds of millions of years and the resultant net increase in CO2 which is the prob

      • by Alchemar (720449)
        Will someone from netflicks be bringing it by bike, or will they likely put it on a plane fly it to your city, place it in a mail truck, and drive it to your house? It might have been better for the enviroment to drive to the movies instead. The problem is perspective. If you drive to the movies, then you are causing the carbon emmissions. If it wasn't you driving then it was someone else causing the carbon emmissions. The fact that it would be on your behalf would be irrelevent to most people, because
        • by nasch (598556)

          Will someone from netflicks be bringing it by bike, or will they likely put it on a plane fly it to your city, place it in a mail truck, and drive it to your house?

          Yes, all of which they would have done anyway. If you would care to calculate the incremental fuel cost of transporting a DVD (I don't) I'm sure you would find it's less than driving to the movies. Far less. Your argument is like saying don't take the bus because buses burn more fuel than cars. The bus is running anyway, so if you're on it r

      • by mollymoo (202721)

        Everyone who NEVER uses any kind of fossil-fuel provided energy to do ANYTHING not absolutely life-or-death, please go track down the Gulfstream owner and do your CO2 rant. The rest of you shut the fuck up.

        "Black and white thinking" - seeing the world only in terms of extremes - is a sign of mental illness. If you are honestly incapable of seeing that producing, say, ten tons of CO2 from fossil fuels is worse then producing one ton of CO2 from fossil fuels I suggest you go and see a psychiastrist.

        Howe

        • However, I suspect you aren't mentally ill but are simply using the fact that nobody is perfect to justify your being as destructive as you like

          And what the fuck do you call your 'holier-than-thou' rant about lightbulbs ? that's pretty destructive, not to mention all your comments are assumptions. Maybe he's a CFL-using, subway riding citizen like myself.

          His point was probably more about taking personal responsibility for actions, like 'you should probably focus more on your own personal consumption instead
      • Everyone who NEVER uses any kind of fossil-fuel provided energy to do ANYTHING not absolutely life-or-death, please go track down the Gulfstream owner and do your CO2 rant. The rest of you....

        I have to commute to my job, but according to you that's not life or death.

        Have to eat and pay the mortgage and support my son. Sorry.

        I use a Prius and drive as little as possible, but unless you are a full-time tele-commuter, CO2 will be produced. I'll buy an electric car when the price goes down and the range incre
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Can we assume that you never do anything like drive your car to the movies. If you do, you are spewing C02 when you could just wait for a Netflix DVD to come to your door.

        I would starve to death before Netflix delivered the movie to me. If it is in the theaters, how long is the wait for Netflix to deliver it? At least a few months for the DVD to be released would be a prerequisite. Even if I didn't hold my breath waiting for the delivery, I'd exhale more CO2 in the months waiting for the delivery than
    • Maybe you missed the part of the article where they said this was a test flight. As in, they were testing the plane. The choice of route was a stunt, granted, but if they hadn't flown a great big "GV," they probably would still have done the test flight, and just flown around in a circle, or some other arbitrarily-defined pattern. It's just that flying in this particular pattern got them some extra press, so why not?

      Calm down a little before you flip out, next time.
    • At a time when global warming is ruining our climate, this is obscene.

      Well, yes and no -- though the CO2 produced is a problem, it's been shown tha global dimming due to jet contrails has had an ameliatory effect. Note that in the days when the US air fleet was gorunded after 9/11, average ground temperature increased by three degrees -- and the consensus is that only the lack of jet contrails could have caused that temperature increase.

      It's quite likely that we'll need to add extra contrails on purpose

    • It's a test flight. Not testing would have been the obscenity.
    • what a load of crap, the carbon from 20 billion gallons of aviation fuel used in a year in the U.S. are small compared to gasoline (over 150 billion gallons) or diesel (over 70 billion) or natural gas.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:06AM (#17918838) Journal

    ... are we looking at a new type of spam?

    Can't wait to read "Enlarge your peanus" right above some skyscraper...

  • I didn't notice (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Until I read it online.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:09AM (#17918848)
    ok lets see, with the target demographic of someone likely to be going through flight paths... you are likely to advertise internet dating sites or burkahs.

    -Sj53

  • Hmmmmmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by appleguru (1030562)
    You've got to wonder why in the hell the FAA approved that flight plan...
    • Re:Hmmmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eric76 (679787) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:26AM (#17918948)
      I don't remember ever seeing any FAA regulation that you can only fly direct lines between airports.
      • Re:Hmmmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MPHellwig (847067) <mhellwig@xs4all.nl> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @08:01AM (#17919144) Homepage
        Indeed the only regulations that interfer with your flight are the no-fly zones, the rest is up to you.
        • Re:Hmmmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by svanderw (202961) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:04AM (#17920748)
          Except for all of the regulations on exactly which flight levels you're allowed to fly at, depending on your direction of flight.
          Oh, and the equipment that you've got on your aircraft.
          And the time of day (in some circumstances)
          And the day of the week(in other circumstances)
          And the fact that Air traffic control needs to know where you're planning on flying.
          Europe is even more difficult to fly in based on all of the restrictions that they put against the flight paths attempting to adjust the air traffic flow.

          Oh, or were you basing the comment on the tiny non-jets(piston/turboprop) that can't fly very high.
          (speaking as someone who's attempting to manage this data for commercial flight planning purposes)
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            You might wanna check those visual flight rules again.

            Air traffic control doesn't need to know a thing, so long as you stay out of their controlled airspace. If you ask for radar following, the only thing needed is a transponder ident.

            Any licensed pilot can fly anytime they want, wherever they want (restricted airspace the exception of course). Without ever telling *anybody* *anything*
            • Re:Hmmmmmm (Score:4, Informative)

              by Sacarino (619753) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:45AM (#17921338) Homepage
              You might wanna check the altitude again.

              While your point in general is correct about VFR flight, this guy was cruising at FL400 - Class A airspace [fiu.edu].

              He would definitely had to have an IFR plan on file, otherwise he'd get a message from the tower to call a phone number when he landed... and that would be the end of his days as a pilot. That's assuming he didn't have a fighter come along to say hello beforehand.

              I would have liked to hear DEN Center asking wtf they were up to when it came time for that little loopy bit and back-track for the bottom of the "G"
          • by MPHellwig (847067)
            Well actual I was partial trained for F-16 Operation Control by the RNLAF (Dutch Airforce) so I guess we where more free in our movement then others :-)

            Although it's been a while ago, I remeber one of usual sayings like: If you're not faster then the Falcon or smaller then a kite, you better do as we like. ;-)
            Though mostly my navy buddy answered with: "Can you handle 130Kg of metal flying pinpointed towards you at mach 3? No? Thought so!"
      • He left a airport and arrived at the same airport. He didnt fly anywhere.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GooberToo (74388)
          Ironically, both this flight and the non-stop around the world flight can not be logged as cross country flight because they both arrived at their departure airport with no other stops. To log cross country time, you must have a stop somewhere other than your point of origin.
          • Look at FAR 61.1(b)(3)(vi)(B). If working towards an ATP (admittedly, these pilots probably were not) all you have to do is go 50+ nm and turn around.

            Anal? Yes, but not as bad as the guys at your local FSDO...
    • Re:Hmmmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by peragrin (659227) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @08:01AM (#17919140)
      As long as your not in restricted airspce you can fly in what ever circle you want. the sky is like the water, while there are "lanes" they are loosely defiend and fill a fraction of the total area in which one can fly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GooberToo (74388)
      The FAA does not approve flight plans. Pilots file them with the FAA. Flight plans are optional unless you fly IFR. Even IFR flight plans can be cancelled at any time, at pilot discretion. Ultimately, even if a flight plan is filed, it is not opened (activated) unless the pilot wants to do so. If a flight plan is not opened within two hours after the filed start flight time, it is automatically expired from the system. In some cases, it can be recovered up to three or four afters after, preventing a r
  • and I thought... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Speed Pour (1051122) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:14AM (#17918878)
    ...the super bowl was an incredibly stupid waste of advertising money for a dot.com

    I guess they found a way to trump stupid
    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:52AM (#17919092)
      Its a test flight, its not as if the entire purpose of the flight was to do some skywriting, if they hadnt done this then they would have gone round and round in a figure of eight for exactly the same period of time. There were other reasons for this flight, which would have been the basis for the expenditure, this is jsut a little fun.
    • by bitt3n (941736)

      ...the super bowl was an incredibly stupid waste of advertising money for a dot.com
      nonsense. as a direct result of this advertisement I bought 10 G5's and am presently using them to write "Suck it, Polar Bears!" across the entire western hemisphere.
  • by Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:30AM (#17918974) Homepage
    GVV for global vvarming.
  • was a plane doing a night flight with a huge array of big leds as in air writing [discovery.com]
    Now THAT would be cool
  • It looks a bit wobbly and crap, also couldn't they have spelt out more than 2 letters? I mean they had the entier US air space!

    Howlong befor a wealthy geek writes All You Base Are Belong to Us?
    • by marto (110299)
      "Howlong befor a wealthy geek writes All You Base Are Belong to Us?"

      Or worse, Bill Gates pays to have the message "Please upgrade to Vista" spelt out in this manner, 24/7 :P
  • Etch-a-sketch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:34AM (#17918996) Homepage
    Doesn't it remind you of the drawings that you used to do with an etch-a-sketch ?
  • by fantomas (94850) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:37AM (#17919014)
    Well if you've got to send up a plane empty to do some flight testing, I guess it's a pretty good result if you can sucker the world's media into giving you global coverage about your company on the side!
  • memories written on the wind...
  • if they would have used Cursive Writing. I'm assuming that they remember cursive writing.
  • It's been very cool. But quite expensive.
    Leaving a comment on /. with those two letters would have been cheaper by far.
    And with more visibility becasuse /. is more visited than Flightware.Com.
    • by Giometrix (932993)
      "It's been very cool. But quite expensive.
      Leaving a comment on /. with those two letters would have been cheaper by far.
      And with more visibility becasuse /. is more visited than Flightware.Com."

      Maybe, but I think the demographics are slightly different. That, or maybe I'm the only one on Slashdot that can't afford a private jet :(
  • by Konster (252488)
    Hey folks,

    I was the pilot for this flight, and it was a shakedown flight.

    But.

    The GV displayed in the flight path is purely coincidental.

    Truth is, I was lost.
  • GV? Looks like the ice cream fell off the cone to me.
    • by Joebert (946227)
      Yeah ?
      Imagine what the poor guy who just found out his secretary is pregnant thought when he muttered "god, give me a sign" right before he looked into the air & saw it.
  • We have some tech which could enable a plane with a computer controlled thingy and coloured smoke make pretty pictures in the sky?
  • Ugly font (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anders Andersson (863) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @08:19AM (#17919242) Homepage

    With a size of 3 billion points, breaking an earlier record [gpsdrawing.com], couldn't they have afforded a slightly more sophisticated typeface, such as Courier?

    My browser (Firefox) doesn't go beyond 72 points. Is there a skywriting plugin available somewhere?

    • by xrayspx (13127)
      FlightML is meant to convey text. You are looking for some kind of meta-formatting information which should be controlled by stylesheets.

      /yeah, it was a reach, but the CSS nazis have been bugging me lately
  • ...what on earth is the point of skywriting in a scale so large the only way to see it is on a crummy flightplan?
    • ...what on earth is the point of skywriting in a scale so large the only way to see it is on a crummy flightplan?

      Dig further. It includes the GPS logs including ground speed, altitude, lat and lon recorded every couple minutes. You can tell when they hit the jetstream (or maybe the throtle) as level flight went from around 300 knots to 500.
  • Ob Futurama (Score:5, Funny)

    by LarsWestergren (9033) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @08:34AM (#17919308) Homepage Journal
    Leela: "Didn't you have ads in the 21st century?"
    Fry: "Well sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio, and in magazines, and movies, and at ball games... and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts, and bananas and written on the sky. But not in dreams, no sir."
  • I count 12 on the map...

    1. Wisconsin
    2. Iowa
    3. Minnesota
    4. South Dakota
    5. Wyoming
    6. Montana
    7. Idaho
    8. Utah
    9. Colorado
    10. New Mexico
    11. Nebraska
    12. Kansas
    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      I did too, but maybe they didn't count the small portion of New Mexico. It's possible the map is slightly off and they never actually entered.
    • by slughead (592713)
      Wyoming doesn't really exist.

      According to Garfield, Wyoming is an Indian word for "nobody lives here"
  • Suspect planned smiley face bomb pattern ... Accused mailbox bomber Lucas Helder told authorities he was planting pipe bombs in a pattern to show a happy face during his five-state weekend spree - cnn [cnn.com]

    If you ever feel the urge to imitate any of these people, try signing your name by pissing in the snow instead.
    That is more impressive and demonstrates more skill.

  • The only people that would be attracted to this are the people who are already planning on buying a GV. It's not that people on the ground would be able to say "Oh, that is really cool, let's go buy one."
  • Just wait until we have flying cars and every Joe spam-pack can airvertise tothe masses. We'll need symantec anti-airvertising goggles to filter it out!
  • Now that would be a cool way to get come attention. Much like when Google did some fly overs in Australia there were people out in athletic fields trying to get noticed with big temporary signage.
  • Nothing else to say on this very funny expensive pollution BizPrank.
  • That flight was a stupid waste of fuel and time. The point of skywriting is to push a message to vast numbers of people in the sky we all have in common, "just look up". That version requries people to search to pull a flightpath in an obscure webpage that they "look up" with a great deal of effort for a tiny reward.

    But who cares about the stupid skywriting stunt? That flightpath page is supercool. How do I find the specific flight number of a commercial flight I took, to look at my actual flightpath, witho
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sacarino (619753)
      On the sidebar, there's a Flight/Tail # input box. You'd put your airline's ICAO/IATA code in there along with the flight #

      For instance, DAL1237 (or DL1237) will give you Delta flight 1237 from Atlanta (ATL) to Orlando (MCO)

      A quick and dirty lookup is at this website [airtimetable.com], although you can find 'em all over the place
    • by iggymanz (596061)
      no, that flight plan will stand out in a number of systems, many of those for serious aviation. That FlightPath resource isn't obscure, I've friends in aviation who use it daily.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        How valuable is this kind of advertisement in that tiny market? Compared to its cost? Huge waste.
        • by iggymanz (596061)
          I was speaking of the same people who influence the purchase of corporate jets, this is just a little awareness stunt. the cost for the "ad" was tiny compared to the profit from one sale. Gulfstream only need link to image in some online aviation rag
  • Aviation geeks have web sites they like to or have to look at every day. This advertisement is meant to target those people, and then creep out and get a few eyes outside of the aviation community. Someone looking at flight plans for aircraft in the Midwest would probably get a kick out of it.

    It's kind of the same situation if you had someone outside of the tech community look at a review for a bright and shiny $5,000 PC. We all know it's excessive, expensive, and something a non-tech will hardly understand

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