Towards the end of last week, a strong North Atlantic jet stream made trans-Atlantic planes flying to the United Kingdom race along at almost the speed of sound. The aircraft were pushed to up to 745 mph, while the speed of sound is actually 761 mph, and that, for a passenger aircraft, is fast indeed.
In fact, while it might have been a fairly nerve-wracking experience for passengers, these high altitude winds actually did them a favor, by shaving off anything from one to two hours from their flight times. The New York to London route saw several flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport traveling to London’s Heathrow in the United Kingdom in around five hours and 20 minutes.
For instance one of the flights, a Boeing 777-200 jet, took off at 10:50 p.m. ET from JFK and landed at London Heathrow at 9:06 a.m. local time, a journey of only five hours and 16 minutes, while the normal flying time is over six hours.
However, it turns out actually landing those planes was quite the adventure, with ground winds from the storm sometimes exceeding 100 mph. The North Atlantic storm that has been battering the northern U.K. has seen the strongest wind gusts for over 50 years.
The following videos might put people off flying completely, watching planes trying their best to land in two different airports in northern Europe.
The first video shows a propeller plane getting blasted by the wind at Leeds Bradford airport in West Yorkshire, United Kingdom on January 9. In later footage on the same video, much larger jets struggle with the wind and eventually touch down. According to the Weather Channel, surface winds were clocked at approximately 60 mph when the planes were attempting to land.
It wasn’t only the U.K. that was affected, however, as the Washington Post reports on January 11 an airplane landing at Sylt Airport in Germany also got hit by a strong and howling cross wind. See the action in the video below.
The World Weather website shows the extent of the gale force wind action all over Northern and Central Europe today, with storms particularly affecting most of the Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom, so it seems problems are likely to continue for some time.
On the subject of airlines, and to help anyone now nervous about flying, the Inquistr recently published an article listing both the worst, and the safest, airlines in the world.
[Image: Screengrab from YouTube video]