Gliders “Crashing” in Google Earth

Gliders Crashing in Google EarthThis scene captured in a Google Earth satellite photo in a field northwest of London shows two gliders which, from this perspective, look like they are about to crash. In reality, they are probably several hundred feet apart in altitude. This is the first case I’ve seen of two planes in flight captured in the Google Earth database directly on top of each other. It’s possible the two planes were flying together in practice for acrobatic display and they are actually closer than normal. I found this via GoogleSightSeeing, and they say this location is near the London Gliding Club.
One of my favorite pasttimes in Google Earth is to look for pictures of airplanes in flight. You can read some stories I’ve written about the official collection of all planes in flight (150Kbytes) found so far in the Google Earth Community here and here. You might even find a few of the planes found by me.
By the way, if you want, you could also share this glider photo with Google Maps. Like the story? Digg it.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. You missed one: Check
    33.355240 -111.758913 This is over my family members farm and I thought it was intresting. I believe it is a small plane but maybe worth considering.
    Cool Idea though.

  2. Thanks Jared, that’s a nice find! I’ve posted your find at the Google Earth Community so it will be added to the database and given you credit.
    Here’s the post:

  3. Sailplane pilots look for lift under cumulus clouds. If one pilot finds lift they all show up. Near soaring clubs or during contests it would not be unusual to see 5 or even 10 sailplanes stacked vertically in a thermal, circling within the fastest rising air near the center of the thermal. You do have to keep your wits about you.

  4. I posted the apparently colliding sailplanes on in January (yet another google earth link). There are many aircraft sightings in their ‘Aircraft on the ground’ section without all the multiple repeated ‘google earth community’indicators to overwhelm you with (mis)information.

  5. That appears to be the same plane to me. I am a glider pilot and as WernerG points out sailplanes climb by finding thermals. When they find one they circle tightly to stay in the rising air. I wonder if these two planes are actualy one which has moved during the imaging process? Great find by the way.

  6. Hereward Dundas-Taylor says:

    I am an Aussie glider pilot and I am glad to dissapoint you as it appears to me that both these aircraft are safely on the ground.
    The width of the fuselage is a little less than the wheel tracks of a car – of which you can see many around the paddock.
    The glider to the left appears to have both front and rear canopy’s open, and the one to the right appears to have only the front canopy open – thus why the rear is more obsceure due to the reflective nature of perspects.
    They may be Blanik’s which are trainers. My guess is that they came down at similar times and due to maybe a little more or less wind (you only have one chance of landing a glider once committed) or a little less than required flying experience they came to end up piggy backing. There doesn’t appear to be any significant damage and these are very strong planes when on ground (as aposed to falling out of the sky where they become sickening, weak and vunerable).
    I would say they would be marginaly unhappy about the last moment of tangle, but comforted in that it was on the deck and not in the sky.
    Entertaining never-the-less. Well Spotted.
    Has anyone got google placemarks for crashed aircraft of the last 100 years? There seems to be a growing number for shipwrecks.

  7. LGCpilot says:

    These gliders are not on the ground. I fly gliders at the London Gliding Club…you’ll find our clubhouse 0.82 miles due East of the 2 gliders. They are Schleicher K21’s, our club training 2 seaters. They have not collided or crashed..believe me, we’d have been the first to know about it if they had done so. What really intrigues me is the fact that the glider to the right appears to be viewed from above..and the one to the left appears to be viewed from below i.e it’s inverted…the 2 dark areas near the nose are the mainwheel and the nosewheel..the wing is almost a shoulder wing and there is a distinct shadow thrown by the fuselage. Our K21’s are often used for aerobatics…perhaps one was caught looping. The wheel marks in the farmers field are made by tractors.
    I’m amazed at the accuracy of the ruler tool..if you measure the wingspan of most of the gliders at the club, you’ll find they are 15m..pretty well exactly..and one of them is being rigged on the trailer wing on, and one off, with no tailplane on yet.

  8. Matthew Rich says:

    Bob is quite right, Google take multiple images and merge them together, and a white glider against a green field would be reproduced twice as the field would cancel itself out in the image processing. So it’s the same glider, turning on a thermal, photographed twice with a gap between exposures.

  9. Here’s one with an odd shadow. Just west of Warrenton, Missouri:
    38.766716, -91.195139

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.