Against the Wind – Tidbits #16

Have you ever wondered why planes at times take off and land in a seemingly less efficient direction, e.g. flying from Chicago to Dallas, a typical departure takes off to the northern runway vs. southern and lands in the same trajectory?  Asides from an air traffic controller’s prerogative to better manage the flow of the traffic, the answer is simple (without going into the details of Bernoulli’s Principle or Newton’s Laws) – wind direction.  Since wind flowing over the wing provides the necessary lift to go airborne, headwind during take-off or landing reduces not only the requirement for runway length but also the speed, according to United Airline’s pilot Captain Mike Bowers.  It’s a bit counter-intuitive but he assures, it’s all physics.

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About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (; following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

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