Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


Date of this Version

January 1956


Published in American Journal of Physics (February 1956) Volume 24, Issue 2, p. 117. Copyright © 1956 American Association of Physics Teachers. Online at
Used by permission.


A problem which one might assume to be of considerable practical interest, but certainly a problem to arouse the curiosity of the undergraduate student, is the problem of determining the most economical flight path of an airplane in the presence of known winds. In general one must assume that the wind system between source and destination is a complex one involving circulation about several centers with winds of variable speed and direction. The geodesic between source and destination is clearly not the flight path of least time in the presence of winds, nor is a cursory examination of a weather map sufficient to establish the best route.

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