CNN has an article about Heathrow that's accompanied by the following photo:

enter image description here

Is this photo depicting an actual event? If not, would it even be possible/plausible to fly this many airliners this closely together or would wake turbulence and similar factors make this basically impossible?

It looks like several of the planes may be in the process of either stowing or deploying their landing gear, and also have their flaps deployed. Does this indicate that maybe someone has photoshopped together a bunch of photos of planes landing to produce this image?

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    $\begingroup$ It is not real, but it may be a time-lapse. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jun 26 '18 at 2:57
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    $\begingroup$ Here’s a link to similar work: mpkelley.com/projects I do not know whether the picture posted in the question is part of that series or is by the same artist. $\endgroup$ – Cpt Reynolds Jun 26 '18 at 5:32
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    $\begingroup$ Tips for finding information or even the soucre of images: 1) tineye.com finds other instances of a particular picture 2) Look at the image credit/byline (CNN curiously did not have that for this picture, and search for that 3) right-click the picture and select "Inspect element". In this case you find text that says "Heathrow Airport composite photo". $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jun 27 '18 at 11:31

The image is a composite image of 42 planes taking off from Heathrow over a one-hour period on November 2, 2016. Here it is on Getty Images if you want to license it for your own purposes; it is credited to Dan Kitwood.

  • $\begingroup$ Excellent sleuthing! $\endgroup$ – aroth Jun 26 '18 at 13:36

It’s a composite shot of multiple departures from an airport. To answer the question, no, there was no single event with all of these aircraft flying in close proximity like this where a single photograph of the group could be taken.


It's a photoshop done for artistic purposes.


It is a Photoshop image and not done too skillfully at that, may be on purpose.

  • The paths are not parallel, all tracing back to a shared vanishing point. They are on a collision path.

  • The perspective geometry is not right, meaning an object depending on the distance and position in a camera field distorts in a way that the points and lines closer to camera get blown up in scale and the lines and geometry further back gets flatten a bit. This is the reason faces get distorted in selfies with nose getting out of proportion.

  • Even in the event of an aerobatic airshow where the planes trajectory explodes open to a flower pattern or spills into a cascading dive these perspective rules are valid and in fact taken advantage in photos and videos of the event.

  • $\begingroup$ @egid sorry, I will edit my answer. $\endgroup$ – kamran Jun 27 '18 at 2:28

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