Why some airplanes don’t fly in high heat

Washington • When it comes to getting airplanes off the ground in broiling weather, it’s not the heat or the humidity. It’s the air density. Hotter air gets thin, making it harder to take off and land safely, mostly for smaller jets. That’s what has kept some planes grounded in Phoenix this week where temperatures have been pushing 120 degrees. Airplanes take off and stay aloft because of lift, the force from the movement of air underneath the plane’s wings that push it upward. “As air warms up,...

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