I recently came back to Miami after a short trip out to Salt Lake City to present my poster. When I was at CEDAR (the conference) I learned about polar routes. I guess I never really thought about them much. Basically a polar route is a flight path that takes a plane straight over the North Pole just as the routes above show. Many of the people that read this blog have taken Electromagnetics. So you know that a compass will be useless over the north pole due to the fact it will just spin around. Nowdays GPS is used to navigate planes over the north pole to places like Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, because it saves hours of flight time by flying up and over the globe, than around it. However the GPS has failed a few times over the poles and they have been forced to land the plane in Alaska or Russia. Yea, not exactly the most exciting thing in the world, its probably quite scary knowing your plane is flying without any computerized instruments.
Dr. Thomas Bogdan, of NOAA gave a great presentation on space weather. He brought up some scary facts about flight crews that fly over the poles tend to have more health problems than those that don’t. The primary reason is that when you fly over the poles you subject yourself to more radiation which is pretty bad for your health. Long story short, don’t fly over the poles that much.