# What should be done with the treadmill question?

The treadmill question is poor in my opinion.

As it stands, there are no possible correct answers. Answers can only be provided by applying assumptions and constraints to the question which do not exist. It is entirely hypothetical and full of logical inconsistencies.

In my opinion, it is not a good fit for any SE site but especially this one. The only thing of relevance to aviation is that with enough airflow over the wings, the aircraft can fly - well duh!

The comments are already looking like those from a YouTube video and people with a poor grasp of physics (and this is what the question is about) are arguing all kinds of nonsense.

Does this really belong on here?

• For what it's worth it's also present on physics.SE using the "conveyor is at same speed of the wheels variant" but close enough to be a dupe – ratchet freak Oct 1 '15 at 11:26
• It was one of those questions that is in every aviation forum, so I proceeded to ask it. – Sargun Dhillon Oct 1 '15 at 17:34
• And not having it here is one of the things that make SE great, Concrete quesitons with concrete answers. The zero groundspeed and earth rotation questions are, with respect, crystal clear logical enquiry compared to this one. I've never found "because someone else does it" a compelling argument. – Simon Oct 1 '15 at 18:13
• Shoot it and put it out of our misery. – Mark Oct 1 '15 at 23:33

I have bludgeoned the treadmill question with my Mod-Hammer of Historical Locking.

My rationale for locking this question is as follows:

• This is a classic "aviation" question
If we send it elsewhere it will just be re-asked here. We will fight this battle forever.

• The question is quite thoroughly answered
Any disagreements among the various answerers and commenters are irrelevant: This is simple physics. It has also been demonstrated empirically in multiple different experiments.
If people disbelieve those experiments or don't like the methods used they can run their own experiments, but frankly this is an aviation site, not science club: Experimental design and controls are far beyond our scope.

The comments here were extended discussions about things that were not relevant to the question or answers (and many have been fed to Trogdor The Burninator in my post-lock cleanup).
Locking prevents additional comments, answers, and reopening of the question, so we shall never have to clean up again.

Yes, I believe the question belongs here.

I do agree that in its current form the question isn't very good. But we handle poorly formed questions regularly. I see you have commented on the question with this concern. If people feel that the question isn't improved enough, they should vote to close it.

However, the question was originally closed as being off-topic. I don't think that's an accurate description of the question's issues. If more clarifications need to be made, then it should be closed as unclear. Maybe it could be closed as a duplicate. But it deals with fundamentals of flight which are on-topic here.

We've already discussed hypotheticals such as taking off with no ground speed or being dropped from a hovering spacecraft. We've already dealt with incorrect understandings of physics in how planes are (not) affected by the earth's rotation. I don't think the treadmill question is that much of a stretch.

• it deals with fundamentals of flight  - huh? In what way exactly? It can't find one scrap of relevance. Please explain what I'm missing. It would change my opnion. – Simon Oct 1 '15 at 18:15
• Exactly what you said. The only thing of relevance to aviation is that with enough airflow over the wings, the aircraft can fly - well duh! But that is not clear to everyone. It may be a simple concept but this question would be simply dismissed as ridiculous if everyone understood it that way. – fooot Oct 1 '15 at 19:19
• The treadmill question is mostly one of semantics, not of aerodynamics. The answer depends entirely on how you define the relative motions of the airplane, the treadmill, and the air. – Mark Oct 14 '15 at 3:18