A Virgin Atlantic flight from Los Angeles to London broke an unlikely milestone (and almost the sound barrier) when it reached a shouting ground speed of 801 mph while crossing the sky about 35,000 feet above central Pennsylvania.
No, this is not the birth of the Concorde or the dawn of a new era of supersonic jets: On Monday night, the aircraft flew into a furious jet stream that flew faster than usual.
Peter James, a corporate pilot with 25 years of Twitter experience, remarked on Twitter in amazement at the aircraft’s pace:
Jet streams are mainly rivers or air currents traveling across the planet from west to east. They exist high in the atmosphere, often at cruising altitudes of commercial airlines. The jet stream is raging at the moment, reports the Washington Post, due to the convergence of abnormally hot air with frigid temperatures in the north in the southern United States.
Climate scientist Matthew Barlow explained on Twitter:
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner reached a bump of 801 mph-a 240 mph over its traditional cruising speed of 561 mph by being swept up in the fast-moving flow.
While this statistics would suggest that the Dreamliner crashed through the sound barrier (767 mph), it’s not really what happened: The aircraft reached a ground speed of 801 mph, but it didn’t move that fast at altitude technically. And even with its phenomenal rhythm, the flight arrived 48 minutes before its planned arrival.
This is definitely not the first time the jet stream has worked wonders for those who want to reach their schedule head. Last October, a flight from Panama City to Istanbul by Turkish Airlines flew 800 miles more than its normal route, but it was still able to arrive on time due to another ferocious jet stream.