The Plane That Took Off in 2024 and Landed in 2023: How Was This Possible?

Written by Henrik Rothen

Jan.02 - 2024 9:32 AM CET

The Plane That Took Off in 2024 and Landed in 2023.

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A passenger plane took off in 2024 and landed in 2023 after a nearly eight-hour-long flight.

The flight, operated by ANA, Japan's national airline, departed from Tokyo on January 1, 2024, and landed in Los Angeles on December 31, 2023, covering almost 8,000 miles.

This seemingly anomalous event was made possible due to the 16-hour time difference between the two locations.

This is not the first time such an occurrence has happened at the turn of the year. There's a place on Earth where, despite being very close, there are two different calendar dates. Practically, when it's January 1, 2024, in one territory, it's still December 31, 2023, just a stone's throw away. This date difference lasts for 21 hours.

Tomorrow Island and Yesterday Island

This is about the Big Diomede and Little Diomede islands, located between middle Siberia and the state of Alaska. These two islands are also known as Tomorrow Island and Yesterday Island.

The larger island, Big Diomede, is the easternmost point of Russia. Only 3.8 kilometers (2.4 miles) away is the smaller island, known as Little Diomede, which belongs to the United States.

Between these islands also passes the International Date Line (IDL), which is also the border between Russia and the United States. Moving between one line and the other resembles a true journey through time.

Tomorrow Island (Big Diomede) is 21 hours ahead of Yesterday Island (Little Diomede), even though they are only 3.8 kilometers apart. The IDL marks the border between one calendar day and the next, so Big Diomede is almost a day ahead of Little Diomede.

Photo: Wikimedia

The Diomede Islands are a pair of rocky islands north of both countries, with small populations of Eskimos who rely on fishing to sustain their economy. According to the latest population census, only 160 people from the indigenous peoples live on Big Diomede, in the north. On the other hand, Little Diomede is uninhabited.

Some archaeologists believe that these islands began to be populated 3,000 years ago when hunters-gatherers in the region began to fish. Initially, according to this theory, they settled there seasonally, to hunt whales in the spring. However, these practices gradually disappeared as people settled there.

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