Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Here comes the Jet S

Here comes the Jet Stream.

Did you know that our planet wobbles around the equatorial plane?  It tilts back and forth over a year toward or away from the sun.  Until December 21st (solstice), earth will be tilting away, and then it starts tilting toward the sun for six months until June 21st(solstice), the longest day of the year. The process then starts over again.  

Starting in the fall the fast moving rivers of air that usually hang out in the far Northern hemisphere start their migration south.  These winds almost always blow west to east.  They spend the late fall and winter over the continental United States.  It looks like the fast moving rivers of air are back and we are like flying salmon swimming with the current or against it.  Winds can easily be over 100 knots with rare speeds of close to 200 knots.  For the record a knot is a standard measurement of speed used worldwide.  In the U.S. we use statute miles.  The conversion is 1.15 statute miles for every knot.  If you’re flying along at 450 knots, you’re also doing 517 statute miles per hour.  The next time you get pulled over for doing 75 in a 65 mph zone, just explain to the officer that your were really only doing 65 knots, hey you never know it might just get you off the hook! It’s great when you have a tail wind; you’re screaming across the earth at close to 600 knots and it stinks when you have a headwind as your ground speed can be half of that.  I have had pilots tell me about flying small prop airplanes close to the ground in headwinds so strong they moved backwards. Really.

So this last weekend I flew back and forth across the U.S. two times.  It took about four and a half hours from the west coast to the east coast and about six hours coming back. I remember a few years back flying from L.A. to Boston and the flight time being just under four hours as we did over 600 knots all the way.   The two legs east were red eyes and the sunrises for both were incredible.  The simple act of seeing a magnificent fiery sunrise is worthy of its own story. So a new season of winds starts again and thousands of pilots and airplanes will play a daily game of cat and mouse with them.  Flying north or south of the jet stream to avoid the headwinds, flying through the heart of it to ride the tailwinds, and climbing and descending to avoid pockets of turbulence.  I also had a layover in San Francisco.  I highly recommend a visit to Tommy’s Joint on Geary St. and Vaness. It is a one of a kind place with great food, lots of history, and good prices.  Tell them FlyGuy sent you.  Be Safe.



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