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Flight reaches 801 mph as a furious jet stream packs record-breaking speeds

A Virgin Atlantic flight from Los Angeles to London peaked at a whopping 801 mph Monday evening 35,000 feet over Pennsylvania. ( More...

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Pileits 22
25 years ago flying a 747 from Shanghai to Tokyo I had a ground speed of 790 knots for nearly an hour while South of Japan heading to towards Narita.
Because of that extreme ground speed I had to begin my descent 210 miles from our destination.
dee9bee 7
After landing, how long did you have to wait for a gate or stand? :-) It would be a shame to travel 790 knots, only to have the indignity of sitting on a taxiway for forty minutes or so at destination. Little you can do about it, though.

On another site, I read of a few westbound (USA) transcons having to stop for fuel enroute the last few days.
Did you mean mph instead of knots? That speed would take a tailwind in excess of 330 knots
Steven Macom 5
I'm glad I'm not the only weirdo that watches this stuff closely. I'm just south of PHL; last night AFR 65 was clocking 707mph on its way from LAX to Paris, overhead PHL.
jaymeinen 5
I had a groundspeed of 716 knots/823 mph out of Japan in a 787. The most amazing thing about it was that it was perfectly smooth.

Here’s a fun site:
SmokedChops 9
from Pilot log "whatever MX did at LAX, do it again.."
Well I was going the other way GS was 288 TAS was 485
Been there too. Schedule Seattle-Tokyo 10:10...actual 11:30...GS-295k. Almost diverted to Missawa. Boeing 707-320
NO fun. Got stuck once at 290. rougher than h°°ll and had to backtrack/divert to ANC. Chief pilot said that I could have made it. I asked with how much fuel? 5,000#...I spit my coffee all over his desk laughing. Boeing 747-200
Just looked at it just now and it's still strong. Here's the link.
bentwing60 4
Well this one has a lot of wind and I still like the SR71 drivers request for ground speed and the casual ATC guys response, 2100 over the ground. what was the wind at 750? Oh to have been that kind of Eagle! Hats off.
bbabis 2
The wind is pretty much zippo up there.
John Lohr 3
Gee, I had zero ground speed in a 172 south of Klamath Falls next to Mt. Shasta one night in the early days of GPS. Controller said I was below the 5 kt low end of his readout. Spent the night in K. Falls and hit 225 kt gs on the way back to the field. Dead smooth, if you can believe it.
Hey, I told you guys about a flight from Dallas to Boston last October that flew faster than 700mph for nearly an hour, and all I heard back from you was crickets. Granted, 801 is almost 100mph faster, but still, 700+ for a sustained period is nothing to sneeze at. What gives?
Hey, the groundspeeds are getting up so high, they're becoming the aviation version of fish stories!
Bryan Shannon 2
I was flying KLAS to KSTL on Monday and flight tracker was saying we were cruising at 695ish MPH several times. I was pretty impressed for a B737-700!
bob denton 2
I was on UA 880 IAH to LHR departing on the 25th Feb on a 777. I always carry a Garmin Oregon GPS to track my flights and when I checked on it later in the flight, maximum speed clocked at 740 mph. I thought the GPS had glitched. We were almost an hour early.
ferminbf 2
I’m wondering, why the plane didn’t remain in the “jet streak”?. I mean, is it for technical and aerodynamic reasons or because civil aircraft are not allowed to fly that fast?
bbabis 5
At some point you need to leave that wonderful tailwind to land at your destination or it may go one way and you have to go another. Aerodynamically, the plane doesn't know or care what the wind is so pilots try to find the least headwind or most tailwind during flights. The only speed limit up there for civilian aircraft is mach 1 or the speed of sound in true airspeed in still air. There are no limits on the speed you can have across the ground due to favorable winds.

I hope that helps.
ferminbf 2
Thanks for the explanation sir.
Well done, Bill
My best was in a 707-320, Tokyo to Seattle. Scheduled 8:30 actual 7:40. Top ground speed 724 knots or 833 mph. Wind 260° @ 260 knots. GS was over 700k for the first 4 hours.
Had to wait at the gate for customs and immigration to come to work.
Reported several winds at check points as 265° 265 knots. Had to always repeat it to Tokyo Radio. Wind 265 Diagonal 265...265 @ 265 over
Ed Maxwell 3
As with most of our US airports, most of the money that goes into them is federal. There is little doubt that an individual, or even a city, does not have the right to destroy what those funds have done. Daley was a criminal who must have believed the old axiom that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. (Although he did neither)
bbabis 2
Several weeks ago while with Atlanta Center I heard a pilot for a major airline request the controller to update their speed to 615. A couple of minutes later he said,"It looks like WE are closer to 610 so let's go with that." I found the flight in Foreflight and saw this was a 737. My question becomes; Can a pilot get to a major airline without knowing what speed is used in a flight plan or even worse not knowing what true airspeed is?
bentwing60 3
Apparently so, and a major US carrier I assume. Might have a bit of trouble with an international ops. class. But it's O.K., some of the new generation of controllers probably don't know the difference either.
I'm hoping my 401K pays off by the time I retire. I'll be transporting myself in a 185 amphib.!!!
bbabis 0
Good for you! I hope it works out even though I’ll be jealous.
bbabis 0
Sure glad I’m getting short. Like Thrustt, lookiing forward to going light and off the radar.
Me, too. Except by next year we're looking at ADS-B out having to be on the airplane.
Highflyer1950 3
Makes you wonder these days doesn’t Bill?
Surely, you didn't ask that question. The quality of most of this generation of pilots, sucks!!!
I have had to correct my son, a 1300 hr. pilot on many an occasion, because of his high time instructors BS instruction!!!
Hey, maybe they were filed for 600 knots TAS! They taxi fast, too!

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Phil Knox 1,43.322,-86.807,4,i:pressure
Highflyer1950 1
I’d have been more concerned with the north/south traffic and the possible shear associated with that strong jet?
siriusloon 0
Cross traffic is routed above (rarely) or below (usually) the jet stream.
Highflyer1950 5
That’s fundamentally incorrect. The jet stream varies in height and width and meanders around. The only info ATC has is pilot reports and by that time there is good chance quite a few aircraft have been affected. While it’s true that aircraft experiencing heavy turbulence usually request lower, there still is tremendous co- ordination required from ATC to maintain separation from traffic in all directions. I’ve seen the jet as low as FL230 and as high as FL390 depending on lat/long and hemisphere and trust me you don’t want to cross it at it’s core altitude where shear can be as high as 6 or 7. The lower the number the less shear to be expected. Another indicator is the level of the Tropopause.
bentwing60 1
That's fundamentally incorrect is absolutely correct. In the fun but not so great freight days in 20 something Lears from BRO to CYYZ, or any other car part destination, you knew that 620 or whatever over the ground would be 3 something on the way home. 450 would still be a rough ride, and descending below the bumps meant a stop in MEM. The worst of the bumps are usually in the north quadrant of the jet core but turbulence is where you find it. The Lear guys were usually askin for a higher, it was busy down low.
siriusloon 1
The original post was about aircraft crossing directly through the jetstream, presumably caught by surprise and THAT is what I was responding to. Fundamentally.
Chris Bryant 1
Pretty impressive. Never been on a flight with that much tailwind. Would've sucked as headwinds though. That I have been on. Continental Connection (ERJ) from EWR to JAX with a 120kt headwind most of the way down. Made for a very long flight.
Phil Knox 1
James Simms 1
Hmmmmmm. Flight 33, I presume? (those that are old enough will know what I’m talking about).
Love the theme me chills
Chris B 1
Mark Andrew 1
I'm sorry, record wind speeds.
Mark Andrew 1
There were record or near record wind speeds at the summit of Mt. Washington as well.
Elliot Cannon 1
I saw 700 knots over Japan in a 747-100. Who still uses MPH?
Everyday you learn something new! This is something I will never forget!!!
Ground/ air... They were still zooming!
Nice flight!
If you're going hell-bent-for-leather in a jet stream that fast, is there any concern that the plane will wander out of the stream (or the stream will wander away from the flight path), causing the plane to violate its air-speed limitations? Alternately, just how high and wide is the jet stream, and how suddenly does the speed change as you move across it?
bbabis 5
That's too much to be answered here Daniel. Google will turn up plenty of sites for your own research. As far as planes and the Jetstream goes, there is not a concern of wandering in and out of jet streams per se. Because of the wind speed difference there is turbulence around the Jetstream edges and that is what pilots do not care for.
I was just on a FlightAware map earlier today hovering my mouse pointer over every jet around the Northeast that was headed west, looking for the highest ground speed. Quite a few in the 700 range today!

Here on the ground in MA, it's gusting to 50+.
bbabis 4
Directional dyslexia. Don't worry Smitty, a lot of us get it :>)
HA! I mean EAST, as you know. Ol' brain ain't what it used to be ...
Joe Vincent 1
Am I mistaken, or don't the ATC read-outs display the planes's speeds as knots Ground Speed? So, that "801" in the display would be knots of ground speed, right? Which would equate to @ 920mph,and not the 801mph" indicated in the article.
bbabis 3
I believe the whole story was already converted to mph so as to make it more readable and impressive to those not familiar with knots.
ATC goes by speed through the air in knots, not the speed over the ground.
If I'm wrong on that - someone please correct me. I'm just a student of YouTube aviation videos after all.
Good morning. You file a flight plan with ATC as your true air speed in knots. ATC radar indicates your ground speed in knots to compute separation and possible conflicting traffic
AHH, I didn't know that - thank you for the heads up, Frederick! I appreciate it.
Paul Hurford 1
The Weather is a changing. Heaven only knows what other miracles or disasters loom in the future.

I do remember a time on a winter evening in February 1973 returning to MDW airport in a Piper Cherokee Arrow. I checked in when I was over Joliet heading North-East. They asked me to repeat my aircraft type. When I did they told me I had a ground speed of 328 knots. The active runways at MDW was 22's. I started my base turn 2 miles before the West Airport Barrier. It still put me after turning for final nearly a mile away. The traffic below me was moving much faster than I was. It was an interesting landing to say the least. More like flying a helicopter than a fixed wing aircraft.
On Saturday February 23rd on a flight from Dallas to Detroit near the southern tip of Illinois, a 737-700 Southwest jet that was near and in the jet stream, reached the speed of 754 mph according to the graph on at 35.000 feet. I was shocked when I watched this live. I was tracking my wife and granddaughters flight. It was a brief time span but I took a screen shot of this occurrence to have proof of what I saw. I didn't realize this was a common occurrence in the jet stream flow.
Ken McIntyre 1
I friend of mine was on a flight like this from Manila. They got to SFO soooo early, they had to circle for a landing slot. Then, wait for a gate.
I feel the need, the need for speed!
randy3 1
It was pretty brutal heading west on I 80 too!😫
s2v8377 0
According to FlightAware 695kts airspeed. That's impressive in its self!!!

VIR8/18 LAX-LHR B789 Tail: G-VZIG

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

siriusloon 16
No, it wasn't doing any such thing. Please learn the difference between air speed, which this wasn't, and ground speed, which this was. It was subsonic in the air regardless of what its ground speed was.
Tom Bruce -3
it was going faster than the speed of sound... but not supersonic
siriusloon 3
The speed of sound is measured relative to the medium in which the object is moving. That aircraft was NOT supersonic because it was not exceeding Mach 1 in the air through which it was flying. The speed of sound also varies with altitude and temperature. If you're basing your statement on sea level Mach 1, then it applies even less in this case to an aircraft at altitude.

You had to be online to post your reply so you could have checked the facts very easily before hitting send. Try this to get started: ttps://

I'll narrow it down for you even more: "The ratio of the speed of an object to the speed of sound in the fluid is called the object's Mach number. Objects moving at speeds greater than Mach1 are said to be traveling at supersonic speeds."

Ground speed has nothing to do with airspeed within the portion of the atmosphere in which you're flying and THAT is where your Mach number is determined. Below Mach 1.0 is NOT supersonic.
Chuck Yeager 0
James Simms 0
Keep on truckin.........


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