Streetwise Professor

September 25, 2013

Mystery Solved So I Can Get Back to Work Now

Filed under: Military,Uncategorized — The Professor @ 4:21 pm

This is truly important, so pay close attention!

Yesterday I was shocked to hear, and then catch a quick glimpse of, a P-3 Orion flying at low altitude (I guessed less than 2000 feet) over the University of Houston campus.  Then I heard it again.  And again.  And again today.   It is a four engine, prop-driven aircraft, so it makes a lot of noise at that altitude.

The primary use of the venerable P-3 is as an anti-submarine aircraft, a role it has played since the 60s (it is based on a Lockheed Electra airframe, a 1950s design).  Figured there were no submarines in downtown Houston, so I was very puzzled.

Today, taking my afternoon constitutional, I heard the plane and got a good view of it.  It didn’t have USN markings or color scheme.  Instead, it had a long blue stripe along the side.  Searching Google Images, I found a picture of a NASA P-3 with that color scheme.  A little more digging uncovered this article from the Baltimore Sun describing how NASA flew a P-3 at low altitude over Baltimore as part of an air quality testing program.  Yet even more digging and I was able to determine that yes, NASA is conducting tests under the AQ [Air Quality] Discovery program in Houston this month.

That mystery solved, I can get back to work.  Work will include a couple more posts this evening.

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