Why the Earth’s Spin Doesn’t Make Flying West Faster

As the Earth rotates in space, it pulls us along with it at around 1000 miles per hour (though we can’t feel it) depending on where you are on the planet. It seems like that motion would work in our favor when flying against the direction of spin—when your final destination is literally heading toward you as you head toward it—but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Despite what logic might suggest, it takes roughly the same time to fly from New York to Los Angeles as it does to fly from Los Angeles to New York.

The folks at MinutePhysics explain the science behind the (lack of) phenomena with their signature brevity in the video above. In short, at 30,000 feet up, a plane is still caught in the Earth’s rotation, not separate from it. The short video also explains how the spin of the Earth does have some impact on air travel as it pertains to wind, and how even when we're going west, we’re always going east. Trust us, it’ll make sense in a minute.

[h/t Kottke]

When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.

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How the Wright Brothers' Plane Compares to the World's Largest Aircraft
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The Wright brothers famously built the world’s first powered, heavier-than-air, controllable aircraft. But while the siblings revolutionized the field of aviation, their early plane looks tiny—and dare we say quaint-looking—when compared to the aerial giants that came after it.

In Tech Insider’s video below, you can see how the Wright brothers’ flyer stacks up against the scale of other aircrafts. You'll notice that size doesn't always guarantee a successful journey. The Hughes H-4 Hercules—the largest flying boat ever made—never made it past the prototype stage, performing only one brief flight in 1947. And the Hindenburg, which was 804 feet long and could fit 80 Olympic swimming pools, famously exploded on May 6, 1937.

Today’s longest commercial airliner is the Boeing 747-8, which measures 251 feet from nose to tail. While slightly shorter (238 feet), the Airbus A380 is certified to hold more people than any other plane in the air—a total of 850 passengers. That record won't last long, though: In a few years, the Stratolaunch carrier—the widest aircraft ever built—will dwarf its contemporaries when it takes to the skies in 2019. Built to launch rockets into orbit, its wingspan is about the size of a football field, even bigger than that of the Hughes H-4 Hercules.

Still, what the Wright brothers’ plane lacked in size, it made up for in ingenuity. Without it, these other giants may never have existed.

[h/t: Tech Insider]


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