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Bridging The Gap
How many flights cross the USA in a day?
  Friday 29 April, 2016
How many flights cross the USA in a day?

How many flights are in the air over the USA at a given time? At this moment, there's a strong possibility that we're all currently standing, sitting or working underneath a number of airplanes en route to their destinations.

FlightRadar24 has released a fascinating 60-second clip that shows 24 hours of flight activity over the United States. Each tiny plane shown in the video represents a real flight that took place on April 1. The swarm of aircraft starts at 0:00 UTC (which is 8 p.m. on March 31, in Eastern Standard Time) and continues through 23:59 UTC (7:59 p.m. EST).

Although the entire minute makes the United States look like a beige picnic basket covered with ants, FlightRadar24 says that some obvious peaks and valleys are visible in the clip. In a blog post, the site explained:

On the east coast, peak traffic activity takes place between 1000 and 1400 UTC (0600-1000 local). The west coast is particularly active from 0430—0800 UTC. At 0700 UTC much of the country is quiet except for the eastbound red eye flights making their way from the west coast to cities like New York, Boston, and Washington D.C.

So how many flights were represented in that one minute? Ian Petchenik, a FlightRadar24 spokesperson, told USA TODAY that on April 1, there were 76,329 flights in the area covered by the video. The most departing flights (1,321) took off from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport while Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport welcomed the most arrivals, with 1,267 flights. O'Hare had the most total traffic, with 2,580 departures and arrivals that day.

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