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Record 800 MPH Winds Aid Airplanes In Early Arrival

Two Boeing 787 airplanes, with the assistance of a strong wind, surpassed the speed of sound (767 mph) when both went above 800 mph.

Typically, strong winds are not ideal during flight. This past weekend, extreme winds helped cut travel time for some lucky passengers.

According to NPR, on Saturday, Feb. 17, the National Weather Service issued a windspeed warning for eastbound travelers. In a tweet, the agency told passengers to expect “quite a tail wind” if they go east during that time.

The National Weather Service forecasted that the strong high-altitude winds over the Mid-Atlantic would reach the “2nd strongest upper-level wind recorded” since the middle of the 20th century. The near record-breaking winds aided passengers in getting to their destinations quicker. It was reported that at least two commercial airplanes landed at their destinations earlier than expected, with both planes hitting supersonic speeds that topped 800 mph.

A Virgin Atlantic flight from Washington, D.C., to London had flight time cut by 45 minutes due to the winds. The Boeing 787 aircraft reached a maximum ground speed of 802 mph, passing the speed of sound, which is 767 mph.

A United Airlines flight from Newark, N.J., heading to Lisbon, Portugal, is another Boeing 787 that reached the destination 20 minutes earlier after it reached a peak ground speed of 838 mph.

The speeds the planes reached were impressive, and on another flight that took place on a Boeing 747 flown in February 2020, a British Airways flight reached a top speed of 825. That flight set a record for subsonic trans-Atlantic flight time. According to the Washington, D.C., area National Weather Service office, the winds at cruising altitude peaked at about 265 mph. It is the second-highest wind speed logged in the region since the National Weather Service started recording in 1948. The highest-ever wind speed recorded at a similar altitude was 267 mph on Dec. 6, 2002.

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