Why Planes Don’t Fly Over Antarctica – The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plane. That’s because in the olden days of air travel, a conductor would walk down the aisles collecting tickets. And to lady passengers he would ask: Where’s My Fare, Lady? Actually none of that is true, but we’re talking about airplanes today, so if the rain in Spain does stay mainly in the plane, well then you’d have a pretty soggy trip.
Meanwhile, have you ever wondered if there are things an airplane simply can’t or won’t do? It turns out that airplanes have strict rules regarding their pathways in the sky for safety reasons, and for the sake of staying friendly with continental neighbors. Some of the places they’re not allowed to fly over might surprise you!
1. Planes Won’t Fly Over Antarctica
Due to the windy and snowy conditions of the Antarctic mountains, this area is more prone to white-outs; the pilot wouldn’t be able to see at all! Also, in the event of an emergency, landing in Antarctica or its mountains would expose passengers to some pretty harsh, freezing conditions and rough terrain. That mountain terrain isn’t exactly landing-friendly, either!Plus the Penguins won’t like it.
2. Planes Won’t Fly Directly Over The Earth’s Poles
The Earth’s north pole has super strong magnetic fields that are constantly changing– their reach and direction can change by miles a year! Why is this such a big deal for pilots? If the magnetic field has moved, true North might look different to the pilot than what it actually is, making it difficult for them to find the correct runway. The rules for navigation might fly completely out the window! Airports name their runways according to how far off true North they are.
If a strong magnetic field, like the one that the north pole has, has made a big movement and causes the pilot to adjust his navigation from true North, he may not know if he’s headed to land on the correct runway! Sounds like a recipe for flight delays! And it gets better. Because airports name their runways according to how far off true North they are in the number of degrees, reports from pilots of movements in a magnetic field may cause the airport to re-name the runway.
The difference of a couple degrees isn’t a big deal. But incorrectly re-naming a runway has had disastrous consequences before, like incorrect or unsafe landings. Situations like this are very rare, but it’s a good idea for pilots to just avoid those poles and magnetic fields!
3. Airplanes Won’t Fly Over the Pacific Ocean
Well, it’s not really that they won’t, per say…it’s because there’s a shorter route! Say you’re flying from North America to Asia. Due to the Earth’s spherical shape, the shortest route between Point A and Point Bis actually in a North to South direction, instead of East to West. If you’re traveling from North America to Asia, it’s generally faster to fly over our European and Middle Eastern friends, rather than cross over the entire Pacific Ocean.
4. Planes Won’t Fly Over Tibet This is largely due to the Himalayan Mountains.
First of all, if a plane has to land in an emergency situation, mountains aren’t exactly the ideal impromptu runway. Know what I mean? Secondly, if a plane did manage to land in the mountains, there’s no doubt that it’s a pretty rough terrain for passengers to cope with while waiting for help, and the mountains would, no doubt, cause serious damage to the aircraft. Most importantly, it has to do with altitude.
The Himalayas reaches one of the highest altitudes in the world. If a plane starts losing cabin pressure, the pilot is supposed to descend to an altitude where the air in the cabin becomes breathable again. This might be hard to do if you’re flying among super high-altitude, unforgiving mountains like the Himalayas!
5. They Won’t Fly Over the City of Mecca
The simplest reason here is that there’s no airport in Mecca! The next city over isn’t that far away, so there’s no need to spend the millions of dollars it would take to construct an airport. Secondly, there’s a strong magnetic field in Makkah. As mentioned earlier, a magnetic field can cause navigational problems for pilots.
6. They Can’t Take Off When It’s Too Hot
Recently, in Phoenix, Arizona, more than 40 flights were canceled because it was too hot! Arizona is already a pretty hot place, but it’s too hot, the plane simply can’t get enough lift! Quick science lesson: Airplane wings are shaped to make air move faster over the top of the wing, so the pressure of the air decreases.
When the pressure on the top of the wing is less than the pressure on the bottom of the wing, it creates a force call “lift” on the wing that pulls it up into the air. But when it’s too hot, the air density is lower which increases the needed runway speed to get air flowing over the wings to create enough lift for takeoff. So we’ll just sit this one out.
7. Planes Can’t Fly Over George Washington’s House
Located in Mt. Vernon, Virginia, the house of the first president of the United States is still standing – although it’s seen a lot of wear and tear over a few centuries, it was built in the late 1700s, after all. It’s considered a National Historic Landmark, so to prevent further damage to the historic home, even from air vibrations in the sky, the airspace above George and Martha’s house was declared a no-fly zone.
8. Disney World and Disneyland
For safety reasons, temporary airspace restrictions are sometimes put in place above areas where there’s going to be a ton of people, so no one would get hurt in case a plane needs to make a surprise landing. For instance, temporary air restrictions are placed every year over the Super Bowl. But what place draws bigger crowds than the Happiest Place on Earth?
In 2003, the Disney Corporation put “temporary” no-fly zones over both their parks, but somehow, they just stuck. To this day, the airspace over Walt Disney World and Disneyland is a no-fly zone.
9. Pantex Nuclear Facility
This nuclear plant is located in Amarillo, Texas, and it basically keeps all of the U.S.’s nuclear materials safe. But they also have some old “you probably don’t want to move it around too much” type of materials left over from past conflicts. Therefore, there’s a wide no-fly zone around and above the facility. We don’t want any accidental booms!
10. Camp David
Sounds ordinary, right? Well, don’t let the simple name fool you! Formerly known as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont, it’s a retreat for U.S. Presidents. A LOT of important people have come, and still come, to visit this place and have meetings where many international agreements have been signed.
Located in Thurmont, Maryland, President Franklin D. Roosevelt started the tradition of holding important meetings here. In the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower renamed the retreat Camp David, after his grandson. Due to the many presidents and world-wide VIPs that visit Camp David, the airspace above the whole compound is a no-fly zone for safety reasons.
11. Kennedy Space Center
Of course you can’t fly over the Space Center,unless you want to collide with a rocket! Just kidding, but there are some pretty obvious reasons why the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is a no-fly zone. One reason is the “big crowds” – space fanatics all over the U.S., and even the world, come to the Kennedy Space Center to watch rockets launch into space. The other reason is that there’s a lot of NASA and U.S. Air force activity that goes on here – pretty important work. So safety for all parties is the top priority.
12. Area 51
Everyone knows about this mysterious and fabled place right? Aliens, UFOs, The interesting thing about the restrictions on the airspace above the whole area is’s a no-fly zone for civilian aircrafts – and military ones! Where the actual “Area 51” is, isn’t really known, so it’s attributed to a pretty big stretch of Nevada desert. The fascinating point here is that the whole area is a no-fly zone – but we don’t know why!
13. Buckingham Palace
Located in London, England, Buckingham Palace is known as one of the most important and recognizable historical landmarks in the world. Home to the Queen of England and all of her administration and staff, it’s obviously an important building to the British public and British government to protect.
There are also many frequent important visitors to the palace whose safety should be considered. Buckingham Palace is meant to protect the Queen and the royal family, so of course a no-fly zone was established above it.
14. The Taj Mahal
It’s one of India’s most beautiful and recognizable pieces of architecture. Completed in 1653, the Taj Mahal draws thousands of tourists each year. In 1983 it was recognized as a World Heritage site. The Indian government place a no-fly zone above the area of the Taj Mahal in 2006 to safeguard this important historical building and the many tourists who come to witness its majesty.
Do you know of any interesting facts about what airplanes can’t or won’t do? If so, let me know down in the comments.