Originally posted by randymh
Maybe there is someone on this forum who has a little bit understanding of physics and/or geology that can explain to me why only Tampa and that other
airport are changing their runway numbers. Is it their location? Latitude? Importance? or more importantly: why are the getting all the
It is all well documented in this thread, but I don't blame you for not wanting to wade through it all.
Here is the sequence of events...
4 billion BC (around tea time, or so
) -- Earth's magnetic poles begin to move around
Early 1900s -- Airplane runways are built, and are designated with the magnetic compass heading in order to help pilots navigate
Throughout the 1900s and 2000s -- as the pole moves, these magnetic compass headings become inaccurate, and runways are routinely redesignated
January, 2011 -- the Tampa airport publishes two mundane press releases regarding these changes
January, 2011 -- (speculative) It's a slow news day in the Tampa news market, and an intrepid journalist, looking for stories, comes across these
press releases, and rings up the airport to ask why the runways are being closed. Upon hearing the reason, s/he figures it's interesting enough to
merit a write up, because who knew that the poles moved?
January, 2011 -- A variety of people, unaware of the fact that the magnetic poles naturally move, and likely always have, start shouting that the sky
is falling, that the magnetic poles are reversing, and that birds and fish are dying as a result.
January, 2011 -- Seemingly, all attempts to calmly explain the facts are ignored, because it's far more interesting to believe that the worst is
happening. But eventually people move on, from boredom, most likely.
February, 2011 -- The poles are still moving, the journalist has gone on to other matters, the airport is likely done with its painting project, birds
are no longer dying by the thousands (or maybe they are,) and life goes on. Oh, and you come in here to revive the concern. Just kidding
As for why Tampa changed their designations at this time, go get a globe (not a map) and look at the geometric angle that is formed when you draw a
line from Tampa to the geographic North Pole (0 degrees latitude) and another line from Tampa to the magnetic pole (doesn't really matter where your
globe happens to show it.) Now, leave the first line alone, and move the magnetic pole along it's current path. See how the angle changes? That's
It happens to other airports, there's just not always a geographically ignorant journalist around to sensationalize things.