A commercial plane flying from New York to London Heathrow reached near-supersonic speeds on Thursday as it flew through a 200-mile-per-hour jet stream surging across the North Atlantic. The Boeing 777-200 jet reached speeds of 745 miles per hour relative to ground speed. To put that in perspective, the speed of sound at sea level is 761 miles per hour. (The airspeed of the plane was considerably lower, with the aircraft flying below the speed of sound at altitude)
The fortunate passengers aboard the British Airways Flight 114 made it to their destination in five hours and 16 minutes. The journey usually takes more than six hours to complete.
Using jet streams to quicken travel times is nothing new, however that day the stream was particularly strong and wide, making it easier for pilots to navigate without too much turbulence.
“It’s just like surfing. It’s extraordinary how fast you can go,” Alastair Rosenschein, a former British Airways pilot, told The Telegraph. “It’s not unusual to get 100mph tailwinds but they have got more than that. This must be a record.”
Pilots often make use of jet streams to quicken travel, and the North Atlantic jet stream is particularly known for decreasing flight times between JFK and Heathrow in winter as it reaches peak intensity. But before you go and buy plane tickets, the strong air current also means that journeys in the reverse direction take longer due to intense headwinds.
Top Image Credit: earth.nullschool.net