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Myself and a group of local aviation photographers were having our usual Saturday lunch at Rick Husband /Amarillo Airport when we spotted a strange object in the sky
In our group was a cop - three were computer techs (including myself) another was a NWS employee - a meteorology student (who works at the local National Weather Service ) - one was a teacher - another is an Amarillo Emergency Service volunteer.
That said - we call ourselves ASAP - for Amarillo Society of Aviation Photographers. We meet almost every Saturday to have lunch and photograph what ever pops into the airport.
Saturday was no exception - and in fact we were treated to a visit (quick turn) by two F/A 18s - one painted in Russian Aggressor colors and an E2C Hawkeye. Not to mention we shot photos of the one of many V-22s out on test hops from the Bell Textron plant just up the road.
One of the photogs (Jay McCoy) caught sight of a glint - way up in the atmosphere and said, "What the heck is that?"
We all turned to see it. It was almost straight up - maybe five degrees off 12:00 o'clock position a little to our west.
Whatever it was it looked much higher than the common NASA weather balloons (launched from Fort Sumner, New Mexico) that sometimes drift over Amarillo - the last one we I saw was 119,000 feet. This object looked much higher.
The object was almost in the sun - but it glinted bright.
At first sight I thought it was a star visible in daylight - and not much more.
Someone in the group suggested it was the ISS - but it appeared not to be moving - only glinting.
You could not tell what it was with the naked eye - or a 300mm lens for that matter - but it was very bright.
I raised my camera and since I was the only one with a decent telephoto - I was the only one to take a photo.
I couldn't see anymore detail on full zoom - but shot two frames anyway.
I was backing up to get a better view of it - and promptly fell off a concrete step (about a drop of two feet) almost loosing my camera. Fell right on my arse I did.
Everyone helped me up - asked if I was OK - I was.
I was more concerned about protecting my camera gear than myself. I only suffered a sore ankle and some wounded pride.
Anyway, once my dignity had been restored - we all looked up back up into the sky - we could no longer see the object. Either clouds that were moving in obscured it - or it had otherwise left our view.
I didn't think much more about it - until I got home and loaded up the images into my computer.
Camera; Nikon D-70S with 70 to 300mm ED lens
Full EXIF data and the raw images are available on request for analysis by qualified persons and media.
LINK FOR FULL SIZE PHOTO # 1
LINK FOR FULL SIZE PHOTO # 2 HERE
All images copyright (C) Steve Douglass and require permission for re-posting or publication.
Comparison photo: Southwest Airlines 737 at 30,000 feet - Lens focal length : 240mm
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Comparison photo # 2 AIRBUS 380 at 35,000 feet - focal length 290mm.
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