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Wingtip vortices made visible with ribbons of white smoke

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Ribbons of twisting smoke trails twirl in the air as an old British Hawker Sea Fury fighter aircraft flies over a runway in Ione, California. Dennis Sanders of Sanders Aeronautics pilots the plane as Elliot Seguin films. The vintage airplane’s wingtip smoke system helps make the wingtip vortices—”circular patterns of rotating air left behind a wing as it generates lift”—a visible phenomenon. From SandersSmoke.com:

In 1972, Frank Sanders developed a smoke generating system for his personal Hawker Sea Fury to use during Airshow demonstrations. In 1973, he was approached by NASA to develop a smoke generating system they could use for wake vortex studies. That model was the SCSG (Self-Contained Smoke Generator). In 1981, Frank developed a second model, which is the Smokewinder®…

Seen trailing the United States Navy Blue Angels and many other aviation teams, white and brightly colored smoke is used to accentuate flight maneuvers in aerial demonstrations, air combat training, vortex marking, and more. Sanders’ white smoke is created with a highly refined mineral oil that can be switched on or off by the pilot.

See and make more vortices: Giant wingtip vortices in the fog as an airplane lands, a vortex of bubbles twirls pufferfish as cold & warm waters collide, and How to make a Crazy Pool Vortex.

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