A popular conspiracy theory features people posting videos of planes seemingly “stuck” in mid air. Search these keywords any social media or video sight and you will find dozens of examples posted by people convinced that these occurrences are examples of any number of wild theories, from the idea that we are all living in a simulation to that the earth is flat.
But anyone who knows anything about how the mechanics of flight work know that there is a far simpler explanation for what is going on. In fact, most cockpits come equipped with monitors to measure these kind of things, and it’s why we have well-known terms like “air speed” and “ground speed,” which are measured differently.
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Put simply, air-speed measures a craft’s speed relative to the air it’s flying through while groundspeed measures how fast it is moving across the surface of the Earth. In instances where the wind is strong enough, the air speed can be quite high (certainly high enough to create the needed lift) while the ground speed can be reduced to zero.
And that is what is happening in this video, which features a small plane pulling a banner. Despite the banner flying out behind the plane (indicating the strong force of wind against the plane), its ground speed is practically nil.
Luckily, given that the airplane is engaging in aerial advertising, rather than actually seeking to transport itself anywhere in particular, it’s not a problem for it to hang out in the sky and deliver its message. Indeed, it’s probably gaining more action this way than if it were just tooling around in the air.