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Name: Dane M.
Status: other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001-2002

Does the rotation of the earth effect the flight time of airplanes? ex. Does flying to a destination against the rotation take longer than flying to one with the rotation, or do objects within the earths atmosphere travel at a relative speed with the earth?

Dane, The Earth's orbit has no direct effect on flight time. The planes do not fly through space; they fly through the air. As an example, consider a hot-air balloon. The surface of the Earth, as seen from the Moon or another planet, rotates at about 5000 m/s. A ballon released into the air does not see the Earth move at 5000 m/s. The atmosphere rotates with the Earth, and the balloon moves with the air. 10 or 20 mile per hour winds can make the balloon move, but not anywhere near 5000 m/s. Also, the direction of the wind is not in any way determined by the direction of rotation of the Earth. Temperature and water distribution across the planet are much more important. A plane not moving through the air will fall straight down. Moving through the air is like moving through the water. When you enter a pool, does the earth move without you, causing the side of the pool to crash into your body?

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College

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