If A Plane Takes Off From The North Pole Will It Be Upside Down When It Reaches The South Pole?

March 08, 2017 7:01 AM ‐ The ParaPod

This article is more than seven years old and was last updated in March 2018.

In this week's The ParaPod Barry wonders whether theories of a flat Earth could be true based on a video he saw which claims that if a plane takes off in the northern hemisphere, it will end up being upside down when it reaches the southern hemisphere.

Earth Is Round
Ian and Barry made their welcome return to The ParaPod after a week's break and the new episode was as hilarious as ever. The guys started off by chatting about the age-old rumours that Elvis Presley faked his own death.

Luckily not even Barry is convinced by these claims but it did give us a fascinating insight into how Barry might fake his own death if the pressure of The ParaPod become too intense and he needed to discreetly slip out of the limelight.

Flat Earth Conspiracy

In the second part of The ParaPod Barry and Ian went on to talk about the ridiculous claims that the Earth is flat. The theory is nothing new, in fact before the 6th century everyone thought the world was flat but back then, they knew no better.

Unbelievably despite the fact that since the 6th century, mankind has circumnavigated the globe and even seen and photographed our own planet from space, some still believe the Earth is flat and terrifyingly that group of deluded people seems to be growing every year.

Barry says he's never been particularly taken in by the flat Earth theory until he saw a video a friend posted on Facebook by a "proper clever bloke," i.e. "not a knob head."

In the video this self-proclaimed clever guy tries to explain how the world must be flat using a globe and a model airplane to demonstrate his point.

Barry relays the information in this video to us listeners by demonstrating using a coaster, or a "tea mat" as he calls it and a tag from some clothes, Barry says the barcode is the top of the plane.

Barry explains, "so you set off flying around the world, so you're at the north pole and you're flying down to the south pole. So you fly down but when you land, you've got to be upside down... but you're not upside down are you when you land, you're the right side up."

Ian rightly responds using the one word we're all thinking, "that's where gravity comes in."

But Barry isn't convinced, "gravity doesn't turn the plane around."

Of course The ParaPod is a twice-Chortle nominated podcast, it's audio only so I couldn't see how Barry was moving the "plane" around "Earth" in his demonstration but as he was using a 2D version of Earth, the tea mat, I feared he might have moved the plane like this...
Flat Earth Flight 1

This of course would be grossly wrong but would result in the plane being upside down when it got to the south pole, it would also mean the plane would have to make its entire flight with it's nose pointing off into space.

Fortunately, this isn't what Barry meant. In the video Barry was discussing the expert was simply describing the fact that when a plane travels around the globe it must invert its orientation to align itself with the surface of the planet.

So relative to the plane's start position, if an aircraft travels halfway around the globe, at its destination it would be upside down relative to its starting point, as you can see in the diagram below...

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Flat Earth Flight 2

This is of course how a plane flies around the world and we all know that's its gravity that means that wherever we are on the planet we don't feel like we're upside down. In fact there is no up or down in space, it's gravity that creates this illusion on Earth.

The "expert" in the video seems to be confusing 'up' with 'north', two totally different concepts. His complete lack of understanding of how gravity works is apparent as he says that in order to fly around the planet likes this, the pilot would have to angle the aircraft's nose down to keep it flying in line with the curve of the Earth.

The curvature per mile flown is very low so there would be no need to adjust, besides this is what gravity does. Think about a satellite orbiting the planet, gravity keeps it in a roughly circular orbit around Earth.

In the video, which is entitled 'Simplest Irrefutable Flat Earth Proof' the guy, who's name is Glenn Hall says "your airplane is upside down and your head is facing down. You can't deny that proof."

He is correct, your head is point down relative to your start point. However, down, as well as up all comes down to human perception and how we perceive our orientation relative to the Earth's surface.

The plane is upside down relative to the start point but right side up relative to its end point. From the moon the plan could appear to be on its side or at any angle, because in space there is no up.

In order to correct the delusion that the plane is upside down you just need to change your perspective to that of someone at the landing site. They feel like they're stood on the top of the world looking down at the ground and up into space. For them, the wheels of the plane are on the runway and the plane is right side up.
Flat Earth Flight 3

I've posted the video below but I wouldn't really recommend watching it, Glenn takes six minutes to explain this madness in the video which ends with him saying "don't mock, I'm not a fool."

The video seems like it could be a joke, a troll... but it's not, this guy is for real. If you really feel the need to watch him make a fool of himself then skip to about the 4 minute 20 second mark when the flight of fantasy finally starts.


Barry didn't believe the Elvis rumours in the first half of the podcast, but Ian didn't believe it either so that's a draw. The Earth however IS round so Ian gets a point for that and here's why...

  1. The Earth's shadow on the surface of the moon is round during lunar eclipse.
  2. We can observe ships going over the horizon.
  3. Star constellations look different from different points on Earth.
  4. You can see further into the distance the higher you get.
  5. We can observe how a spherical Earth gives us day and night.
  6. We can observe how are tilted angle relative to the sun gives us seasons.
  7. You can't see China from the west coast of the US no matter how good a telescope you have.
  8. Yet we can use telescopes to see other planets which are round.
  9. We've circumnavigated Earth.
  10. We've seen Earth from space and it's round.

Ian 7 - Barry 0.

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