If one were to continuously fly around the world to the West along the Equator so that they moved at an average 330 mph (world diameter 7918 miles / 24 timezone separations = ~330 miles per zone right?), what would happen to their clock hours, considering hours gained with timezones?

Would one theoretically be able to skip from 12:00 noon Monday, to 12:00 noon Tuesday, and so on, without the time ever being 1:00?

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    I think this would be a great question for what-if.xkcd.com – Aleks G Jun 24 '15 at 19:00
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    I remember in 1999/2000 there was a charter plane flight that flew a route which enabled the passengers to celebrate Y2K (which was not the new millennium) multiple times as it flew around the world. I believe it made the round trip from Sydney Australia. The interesting thing is due to international law visa status did not need to be checked for the passengers since the take off and landing were from the same point and passengers we not allowed to leave international terminals. – Steve Jun 24 '15 at 23:43
  • There is absolutely nothing unclear about this question. If you somehow stay in one place relative to the Sun and Earth's surface, so that it is (for instance) constantly early morning wherever on the globe you happen to be, then yes, the dates will march forward while it stays early morning. A date increment will occur at each crossing of the International Date Line. Each time you visit the same spot, it is a different morning there. – Kaz Jun 25 '15 at 13:22

Your base facts are off. It is not the diameter of the Earth that is important, it is the Earth's circumference. At the equator, the Earth's circumference is approximately 40,000 km. Thus, to achieve what you suggest, you would need to travel at about 1,700 km/hour or 1,100 mph. This is much faster than any current commercial aircraft. This is also Mach 1.4 (i.e. faster than sound).

You could, however, circumnavigate the Earth closer to either pole, making your journey much shorter. The timezones do reach all the way north and south, at least in theory. Close enough to the pole and you could walk!

You do run into another issue though, and that is that the timezones are not uniform in size. Some are much larger and their size depends on your exact latitude. So, while you might be able to keep the sun in a fixed position in the sky (relative to yourself), the local time may jump around a fair bit.

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    4 seconds. damn :) – bers Jun 24 '15 at 17:57
  • Of course, one could also vary one's speed to achieve the intended effect. An interesting exercise would be to plan such a trip during a switch to or from daylight saving time/summer time. – phoog Jun 24 '15 at 18:34
  • The 'close to the pole' approach is actually not so easy. On the South Pole, time zone boundaries are actually defined based on the time zone observed by the research stations and/or national claims, hence the time zone borders are rarely in one-hour-steps: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_in_Antarctica#/media/… – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 24 '15 at 21:43

Yes. You may want to check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Date_Line for further details. By the way, no need to go that fast. Just go close enough to either of the poles, a short distance will allow you to select a comfortable walking speed.

To make @Gayot Fow happy, I should add what @Kris has already pointed out. You're wrong, so wrong. Still, I would answer your question with "yes", since your main point is the constant hour of the day, not the speed (which does not matter anyway as per my above reasoning).


It all dependes on your definition of what's the time inside an airplane when traveling across timezone boundaries.

It seems you consider the timezone of the landmass (or ocean) right below the airplane. That is an uncommon definition (at least for me), as it would force you to adjust your clock every hour, sometinhg I don't see traveler's inside an airplane doing. I usually adjust it once the airplane's doors are closed.

The real problem seems to be that hours within a day are a social definition and not a formal one. just think of daylight savings time, when a whole country accepts to change the hour. Another evidence that time in a day is not a formal definition is that timezones do consider country's boundaries, which are also a social convention.

Bottomline is, I guess there is no correct answer to this question, but considering your implicit assumption of time inside an airplane, it is plausible to assume 1 o´clock would never come!

  • Pilots usually operate in UTC precisely to avoid this problem. Passengers usually care only about time at their origin and destination, not the notional "local" time'. – lambshaanxy Jun 24 '15 at 22:16
  • @jpatokal, Passengers usually care about time delays (how long until we arrive? How long until they'll serve breakfast, etc.). Time of day seems not so important. If the time inside an airplane is considered to be UTC, then the answer to OP's question is "no", 1 o´clock would come, no matter in which direction or speed the airplane is flying. – gmauch Jun 25 '15 at 12:32

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