{May 24, 2013}   Turbulent Times.

Nobody actually likes turbulence when they fly. It’s downright annoying. Uncomfortable, yes. Dangerous, no. An airplane does not just fall out of the sky due to the Harlem shakes. Aircrafts are designed to withstand bumps with their ingenious flexible wings that ‘flap’ in the wind.

Even though I have flown in hundreds of hours of turbulence,  I do not pretend to be an expert in that topic. I still don’t REALLY get it.  But, I’ll give it a shot and explain what causes turbulence to the best of my abilities.

Turbulence in the air is like driving on a bumpy pot-holed road. When you are flying in the sky and you hit ‘an air pocket’, you are experiencing irregular fluctuations in the air. Technically speaking,  air flows like a horizontal snaking river that is referred to as a jet stream. When the edge of the jet stream interacts with slower moving air, you get turbulence.  Hey, presto.

Even though pilots can’t see turbulence, they can avoid it by relying on ride reports from other pilots that flew the same path moments before. It is always rush hour up in the sky, so there is a lot of information to share amongst pilots and air traffic control!

Pilots are trained to handle turbulence and any other mishap thrown their way, so don’t worry.  Keep your seatbelt fastened and you’ll be fine. I trust the pilots. You should too.

I have had many fearful passengers over the years. Some drink  alcohol or take ‘something’. Others just cower and suffer through it.

I used to be able to take scared flyers into the flight deck so that they could see the pilots in action and ask them a ton of questions.  That used to help. But, after 9/11, that practice stopped.

I had a woman so frightened once, she wouldn’t let go of my hand. Fortunately, I had a deadheading pilot in uniform that was nice enough to talk to her and calm her down a little.

Then, there was the woman that looked me straight in the eyes when we were flying through turbulence and shrieked: What’s going on?There is something you’re not telling me! 

Fear of flying, is an irrational fear, just like fear of spiders (unless you live in a country like Australia, where they have the most deadliest arachnids). So, you can’t reason with these types of passegers because they are so frightened and cannot think logically about the situation.

The most fearful flyers appear to be female, unless the men are better at hiding it. The fear of flying crowd tend to have controlling ‘type A’ personalities. They probably would not be afraid if THEY were licensed to fly the aircraft. At least they’d be in charge. But, I do sympathize with them.

Of course, it goes without saying that, statistically speaking, it is safer to fly in an airplane than  drive your car to work. 

Like I said, irrational fear.


et cetera