The jet stream is moving so fast right now that commercial planes are traveling faster than the speed of sound

Virgin Atlantic plane.
(Image credit: Antony Nettle / Alamy Stock Photo)

If you're flying east today, you're in a whole lot of luck: The jet stream, that funny little channel of high-altitude air that flows over the United States and northern Atlantic, is moving at unheard-of speeds, delivering commercial jets to their destinations nearly an hour ahead of schedule, The Washington Post reports. In fact, one Virgin Atlantic flight traveling from Los Angeles to London notched a speed of 801 miles per hour over Pennsylvania — which, had it been on the ground, would have been faster than the speed of sound.

Thankfully for the passengers on board, the plane itself didn't actually break the speed of sound because, as the Post puts it, "it was embedded in the swiftly moving air," so only its horizontal speed over the land, or ground speed, crossed the 767-mile-per-hour speed-of-sound threshold. The plane's true "airspeed," or speed at which air was passing over the wings, would have been much lower.

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