Airplanes Do Correct for the Coriolis Effect

Airplanes do correct for the Coriolis effect. They constantly make adjustments to counter forces that try to push them away from the planned route, including the Coriolis force.

Flat-Earthers claim the Coriolis effect does not appear to affect airplanes, and they use it to “prove” that Earth is stationary. In reality, the Coriolis effect does affect airplanes, and we do have to correct for it. But the effect is tiny, and we can safely ignore it in flight planning.

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Airplanes and Earth’s Rotation

An airplane exists on Earth. It has the same motion as the surface of the Earth, including Earth’s rotating motion. The motion and speed of an airplane are measured relative to Earth’s surface.

Flat-Earthers claim that an airplane should not be able to fly eastward or land. In reality, an airplane is moving relative to the surface. It has Earth’s motion as a component of its motion and does not need to chase Earth’s rotation.

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Pilots Are Taught to Work With the Fact Earth is a Sphere

Pilots are taught to work with the fact that Earth is a sphere. It is part of the education to become a pilot. Their job depends on the knowledge that Earth is a sphere.

Flat-Earthers wrongly claim that pilots are taught to fly based on a flat Earth. We can easily disprove these claims by reading some of the books these pilots use in their education.

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Spirit Level on an Airplane

During cruising, an airplane is practically level. It is flying perpendicular to the direction of gravity. The aircraft is still flying following Earth’s curvature and continuously changes its orientation. However, not only its orientation changing but also the direction of gravity, having the same amount of change. As a result, a spirit level on a flight will not show us the difference in orientation of the airplane due to its motion following the curvature of the Earth.

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Air Distance vs Surface Distance

The cruising altitude of a jet airliner is about 33000-42000 ft or 10000-12800 m. It is very tiny compared to the radius of the Earth of 6378 km. Therefore, the distance measured at the cruising altitude does not differ much compared to the surface distance.

Some flat-Earthers claim that if Earth is a sphere, the distance traveled by a jet airliner would have been multiple times the surface distance. They are wrong. The air distance at 33000 ft is only 0.16% farther compared to the surface distance.

Bottled Water: A Simple Device for Observing the Dip of the Horizon

On many flights, they would give away leveling devices to all passengers for free, so that everyone would be able to observe the dip of the horizon and proves Earth is a sphere. And as a nice side effect, to quench our thirsts, too!

Such devices are called ‘bottled water’. Using these simple ‘instruments’ on a flight, we can demonstrate that Earth is a sphere.

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Frame of Reference

A frame of reference consists of an abstract coordinate system and the set of physical reference points that uniquely fix the coordinate system and standardize measurements. Speed or velocity is relative to a frame of reference. It is possible that two speeds/velocities are measured relative to a different frame of reference and thus cannot be directly compared.

Flat-Earthers would often compare two different speed measurements like an airplane moving at 900 km/h (560 mph) and Earth’s surface near the equator at 1674 km/h (1040 mph). They would conclude the airplane should not be able to catch up with Earth’s surface and would not be able to land if the Earth is rotating. They are wrong. The speeds are measured relative to the different frame of reference, and therefore, cannot be compared directly.

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