The trip to the US

The first long plane trip I had was in December 1978. Can’t remember much then and I was 5 years old. I was probably asleep most of the time.

In December 1999, I flew again to the US. It was a day trip so there was a lot more to see..

Today, it’s July 2004, I had a night trip. And for me the experience is a bit boring.

At the airport:
It was my first time to 1) fly straight to US, MNL to LAX, 2) ride on PAL, 3) depart from the Centennial Terminal.

The Centennial Terminal seems far way better than the NAIA Terminal. It’s newer than NAIA, and has less people.

My Baggage Problem
Each passenger is allowed to check-in 2 baggages both not more than 70lbs. And a handcarry baggage not more than 15lbs according to PAL’s websites. (Some frequent flyers I know said that you could bring a 15lbs or less shoulder bag and a 25lbs or less bag with wheels. Another said you could bring anything as long as it’s less than or equal to 25lbs. Another person advised me as long as I can carry it and it fits in the overhead compartment.) I had a 25lbs sports bag as my handcarry.

When I was packing up, I left a lot of clothes as well as my printer and scanner that once I get there I’m going to check if it’s cheaper to have them sent over, or for me to buy new ones in the States.

Being the computer freak that I am, I had a bunch of tools with me. Aside from the standard screwdrivers and pliers, I had RJ11 and RJ45 connectors and crimping tools, a soldering iron and some lead. On the xray machine, they saw these in my handcarry bag. And they said I cannot bring it. I insisted that I should bring it since I need them with my work. So since my boxes were both less than 70lbs, they checked-in my tools in the cargo which was also 2.4lbs.

On the Plane
I could say it was boring since it was night time. I could not see a thing but lights down below. Nothing special, you could see the same thing at Antipolo.

Since it was dark and I had no sleep the night before, I spent most of the time sleeping in the plane.

The only thing I noticed were these:
1) The TV screens were showing real-time data, speed, temperature, distance, time at departing country, time at arriving country. At a speed of 136km/hr the plane started to rise! What wonders wings can do! I drive a car sometimes reaching 120km/hr and is still on the ground, and the plane is so heavy and large that it only needs 100+km/hr to lift off! Cool isn’t it?

2) On the ground I looked outside the window, I see nothing but lights since it’s night time. After sometime, I saw moisture build up. So what? That happens when it’s cold. After sometime again, I noticed crytals on the window. I was actually between the glasses since there is a thick glass for the outside of the plane, and the thin glass that you see and touch from the inside of the plane. The crystal were actually water crystals that form the famous structure sometimes drawn in oversized proportions as Christmas decorations signifying snow. This struction is actually a fractal pattern which is a exponential (or logarithmic) pattern that goes over and over again. This happen in solid water (which is ice) but is not observable in large quantities of ice since they are stuck so much together. You could observe this in small quantities but if would be hard to view it from your freezer since once you take out a chunk of ice and try to break it into smaller pieces, they melt and it is no longer solid water but liquid water. Actually you may get to see it when it is snowing since the whole surroundings is cold that thinner layers of ice do not melt right away and you could see the crytal structure. Once property easily observable here is that when this happens, water turns into white and no longer transparent. (So that explains why clouds are white, they are water, but solid water, but not stuck together but a very fine particles.)

So back to the window… In the gaseous state, molecules are farther apart, and are closer in liquid and closest in solids. So the air between the two glasses in the window already had water in the first place. As the plane went higher, temperature dropped and so did pressure and it reached freezing point (which is 0oC and is even higher as lower pressures. Meaning when the pressure gets lower, it is easier to freeze water.) I saw in the monitor on the TV screens on the plane that the temperature was -570oC! That’s subzero! Any glass of water outside the plane should really be ice! And since between the glasses was only a small amount of water vapor, thus with a very small amount and stable temperature and pressure way up there, I was able to see the nice pretty crystals, just like the ones you see during Christmas on some decorations. Cool isn’t it? Literally really cool!

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