Flight Safety and Turbulence

I’ll give you the answer to the burning question: “Is flight safety adversely affected by bumping airplane turbulence?”

Understand Airplane Turbulence to Overcome Fear of Flying

Understand Airplane Turbulence to Overcome Fear of Flying

For those of you that are afraid to fly, bumping turbulence is a great concern.

I’d like to take a moment and answer the questions and concerns submitted by Larry. I greatly appreciate the comments and questions that some of you with the fear of flying have been sending to me. Keep it coming!

Larry wants to know:

1. What causes the bumping?

2. How much of a flight safety problem is it?

What causes the turbulence?

As a child, I remember lying in the grass watching the puffy clouds go by. I spent hours imaging different shapes in the clouds. Even today, I sometimes look up at the clouds and see a face or an animal.

Flying through the clouds is a different story. It seems that those puffy clouds don’t like getting run over by an airplane.

The turbulence that we feel in an airplane when flying through clouds is simply the circulation of the air. It’s an updraft of going from warm air to cool air and it creates a bumpy ride.

You may say, “I don’t see any clouds and I still feel turbulence!”

Look out the window, do you see mountains? They may be beautiful, yet there is a little known effect called ‘mountain waves’ which also cause a bumpy ride. There are variations of temperatures in all the nooks and valleys of a mountain range. If we remember from school that warm air rises, we can realize that these variations of temperatures are circulating as a result.

How much of a flight safety problem does turbulence create?

Mild turbulence does not cause a flight safety problem at all. You may not like it, especially if the flight attendant has just delivered a hot cup of coffee to you. It may cause you to grip your armrest until your knuckles are white. Your heart may beat faster or your stomach may knot up in discomfort.

If turbulence gets severe, it could be a flight safety problem. It could cause a structural problem with an airplane. That is why pilots practice and rehearse this very situation twice a year in a simulator.

Pilots know that when they experience turbulance it’s time to make some changes not only for flight safety but also for the comfort of their passengers.

Pilots are trained to handle this situation in the simulator and also have lots of hands on experience with it as well because it is so common.

When I hit turbulence, I simply check in with the air traffic controllers and ask if other pilots have reported smoother altitudes.  Then I’ll slow down and go to the altitude where I’m likely to find less bumps.

The moment of sheer terror for people with a fear of flying.

“I’ve been having a smooth ride and now that it’s time to land it’s getting really bumpy again!”

Yes, I know, this happens all the time. Your pilot has found the right cruising altitude for a nice smooth ride and then it gets really bumpy for the landing.

That’s because of something known as the Coriolis Effect. Simply put, the wind is shifting and changing directions as you get closer to the airport. The result of this wind rotation is a very bumpy ride.

I pride myself on my smooth landings, yet sometimes a bumpy landing can’t be helped.

Be sure to get your “7 Tips to Fly Stress Free” by completing the form at the upper right. Also, you’ll find step by step details about how to overcome fear of flying once and for all in my program “Lose the Fear – and Fly!”

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