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Picture of the day - September 6, 2006

A "Smoke Angel" Off The Carolina Coast

Photo of a smoke angel.
Click photo to enlarge.         Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

Today's picture features a very interesting smoke angel that vaguely resembles an owl. Smoke angels are created when a high-speed aircraft releases one or more flares. In this case, four flares were released and the plane's vortex (air spiraling off the plane's wings) formed the two "eyes" as the smoke began to spin.

Smoke angels can take many shapes depending on several factors, including the number of flares released, their proximity to one another, and their locations in relation to the aircraft. The one featured above is one of the most "creative" smoke angels you're ever likely to see.

The airplane in this picture is the one that created the smoke angel. It's a C-17 Globemaster III from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. This amazing aircraft was on an exercise over the Atlantic coast near Charleston on May 16, 2006 when it released its flares and created today's unique image. Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley, IV took the photo while trailing the C-17 in another aircraft.

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