Problems Flying North/South due to the Earth's Rotation.
Most recent answer: 04/15/2016
- thomas (age 24)
oakland, ca USA
The effect you are talking about is very real. It's called the Coriolis effect. It was discovered in the 17th century by cannoneers that if you shot a cannon ball in a north-south direction the ball didn't land where you thought it should. Cannon balls shot in an east-west direction were not affected. The basic problem is that the usual NSEW co-ordinates of the earth is not an inertial frame, it is a rotating frame. In order to fix it up a fictitious force was invented called the Coriolis force. This force is always perpendicular to a north-south line. It is given by Fc = --2m Ω x V where Ω is the rotational speed of the earth and V velocity of the moving object.
So that means that if you are in an airplane at the North Pole and the pilot flies due south headed toward Oakland without steering the plane a bit you will wind up somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
Take a look at the Wikipedia article on Coriolis Force for lots more detail.
(published on 04/15/2016)