Unique Places Planes Can’t Fly
Flying to another part of the world has never been easier due to international air travel. One of the longest non-stop flights in the world is run by Singapore Airlines from New York City to Singapore which is a huge 9,525 miles and takes a total of 18 hours and 30 minutes. However, have you ever wondered about the flight paths airlines use to get us from one place to another and how they seem so strange?
This is because there are certain areas of the world which have restrictions put in place that prohibits the entry of any aircraft. There are a bunch of reasons as to why such as religious, historical, political, safety and environmental reasons.
In this post, we will look at the most unique and interesting places we will never be able to physically fly over and why:
1. Environmental significance
Machu Picchu, found in Peru, is one of the most stunning and breathtaking world wonders of the world. Built by the Incas and also known as ‘The Lost City’, it is a citadel which is made up of palaces and temples, dwellings, storehouses and is a site fulfilling ceremonial religious functions.
But you will never be able to fly over it and get a bird’s eye view. The reason? Due to the fragile ecology and the significance of the ruins, flying over the area is highly opposed by historians and activists. It has a delicate balance of nature which is best left untouched to preserve the site of its cultural significance.
There is always a danger with flying commercial aircraft over the region, as there is the possibility of them crashing or having to make an emergency landing which damage the ecosystem and possibly the buildings themselves. Not to mention the side-effects of pollution contributing further to the destruction of the natural habitats.
2. Religious Significance
There are many significant religious sites around the world and Mecca (Makkah) is one of the holiest cities for Muslims. Located in the Ṣirāt Mountains, in Saudi Arabia, inland from the Red Sea coast, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was born in Mecca, and it is toward this religious centre that Muslims turn five times daily in prayer. All devout and able Muslims attempt a pilgrimage, also known as the hajj, to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. Because it is sacred, only Muslims are allowed to enter the city.
It also makes it a no-fly zone for commercial airlines. While it would be convenient airspace for aircraft to travel from Jeddah to Riyadh, they have to bypass and go around instead. Airlines are prohibited from flying over Mecca and especially during the Holy Kaaba, as a mark of respect to this religious place.
Therefore, all non-Muslims are not permitted to fly over or enter Mecca for any reason and can face a fine and deportation from the country.
3. Political significance
Any political significant area will be a no-fly zone for safety reasons. The UK’s Downing Street is possibly one of the most famous streets in the entire country. It is the official residence and office to the British Prime Minister and access to this gated location requires special permissions. The office at 10 Downing Street, helps the Prime Minister to establish and deliver the government’s overall strategy, policy priorities, and to communicate the government’s policies to Parliament, the public and international audiences.
As a matter of security and protecting such important political figures, aircraft are not allowed to fly directly over this street. Another important regal figure in the UK is, of course, the Royal Family and in particular the Queen. Therefore, the Queen’s residences at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are also no-fly zones. This also applies to the House of Parliament.
4. Historical Significance
Similarly, to environmental significance and the world wonder of Machu Picchu, passenger aircraft have to avoid flying over any historical wonders such as the Parthenon in Athens to protect its historical importance.
This building is a resplendent marble temple built between 447 and 432 B.C. during the height of the ancient Greek Empire. Dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, the Parthenon sits high atop a compound of temples known as the Acropolis of Athens. It is visited by millions of tourists annually and is considered as one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Commercial aircraft are permitted to fly over this temple, however, they must not fly below 5,000 feet to protect its structure.
5. Disney Attractions
Disneyland, home to Mickey Mouse and one of the most magical theme park attractions in the world are also places which you cannot get a good aerial view from. After the 9/11 attacks in New York City, many restrictions have been put into place for the safety of visitors and tourists to stop any future aircraft-based terrorist attacks.
Many Disney Parks had temporary bans on flying over them, which in 2003 were made permanent in Florida and California, prohibiting aircraft within 3,000 feet. This ban is more aimed at non-commercial aircraft as commercial planes would have little reason to be flying at an altitude that low. So, if you were hoping for a glimpse of the world-famous park from a bird’s eye view then you will find this is not possible.
Similar bans were also put into place above stadiums in the US which can seat more than 30,000 people such as sport and concert venues.
6. Natural Barriers
There are also physical restrictions stopping aircraft from certain routes across the world, causing them to bypass and have alternative paths to get from A to B. One of the barriers are the beautiful Himalaya mountains which run through Tibet and aircraft are not allowed to fly over them.
Planes generally will not fly over mountains higher than 20,000 feet, because they could potentially crash into them. Also, in the interest of the passengers, mountains are not the safest place to land in emergencies so they are avoided.
Another natural barrier which planes will not fly over is Antarctica. This is because no twin-engine aircraft are permitted to be beyond 60 minutes from an airfield in case of an emergency. Also, flying at or near one of the Earth’s magnetic poles is generally a nightmare, because the terms of navigational direction are pretty much meaningless.
Be sure to check out my website Take The Leap Travel for more information and travel advice as well as my Instagram @explorewithlee and @taketheleaptravel.
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