ELI5- London to US flight, why we don’t fly over the Atlantic Ocean directly instead go all the way north ?

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ELI5- London to US flight, why we don’t fly over the Atlantic Ocean directly instead go all the way north ?

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Because the earth is not flat (despite claims), it is a sphere. If you were to fly directly from London to New York, in a straight line across the Atlantic, it would be a longer route than taking an “elliptical” path northwards and then southwards.

Imagine connecting two points on a basketball, on opposite sides, and then drawing a line between the two. The shortest path actually follows a curve when looked at straight-on, rather than being dead straight around the circumference.

It’s the shortest distance. If you look on a globe, this is apparent. Most maps are greatly distorted in the north and south.

And if you are a flat Earther…. something something New World Order something.

Does having available and near cities for emergency landing have anything with it?

Get a globe and a piece of string. Put one end of the string on London and stretch it to where you are going and see where it goes.

We fly in arched path’s because its shorter, thus using less gas and saving money. The arched path is shorter than a straight line path because the straight line path isn’t a straight line. A straight line connecting the US and London would go through the center of the earth. This would be the true shortest path.

However, since planes have to fly outside of the crust of the earth, they must take the shortest path available to them. Using spherical geometry to measure the distance between points, and derivatives (calculus) to find the shortest path, you can determine that great circles are the shortest path when you’re staying a fixed distance (like a radius) from some point (like the center of the earth since you have to be at least the radius of the earth away)