Turbulence on the plane

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Turbulence, What they are and why you should not be afraid, For those who fear flying by plane, there is nothing worse than hearing the word turbulence… But perhaps you should know that those agitated cabin movements are more common than you think and should hardly worry you. You want to know why?

What is turbulence? 

The word turbulence derives from the Latin  turbulentĭa  and refers to the condition of that which is turbulent (disordered or agitated). An airplane can be said to experience turbulence when it moves violently  due to changes in speed and direction of air currents. When air particles become disordered, disturbances appear, usually in the form of windmills. 

What causes turbulence?

Turbulences are produced by different meteorological situations . The most common cause is cloud formations (in more exact terms: vertically developing clouds), storms and air currents in mountain ranges or jet stream areas. Shear  is another of the meteorological phenomena that can affect the flight and it is a fairly abrupt variation in the intensity and direction of the wind  Another type of mishap that can be experienced during the flight is the turbulence generated directly by the plane itself.They occur when large masses of air collide with the ends of the aircraft’s wings. In all cases, the pilots carry out tests and simulations to control any situation that arises. 

When and where are they more frequent?

On night flights or flights early in the morning it is rare for turbulence to occur since at those times of the day the air currents are smoother. On the other hand, if we fly during the day, we may feel movement during the journey.

They usually occur at low altitudes that are typical of short-term trips, but some long-haul flights are not exempt. There is a chance of turbulence if we fly over India or the Middle East. 

types of turbulence

There are three types of turbulence that are clearly identifiable: 

  • Mild turbulence:  It is a small almost unpredictable movement of the plane that would allow us to even stand in the plane without moving.
  • Moderate turbulence:  It is a predictable movement and it would not allow us to stand up in the plane, we could suffer a fall. 
  • Severe turbulence : It is the most serious of the three, and the plane would move in such a way that we would feel the sensation of being glued to the chair, or that we would ‘fly’ upwards taking off from the seat.

They are dangerous?

We must know that turbulence is not a big problem at  the plane’s safety level. But as is always the case in the face of the unknown, it is normal for passengers to become frightened and even dizzy. 

We should not be afraid of turbulence as airplanes are designed to withstand even the most aggressive turbulence. Pilots, in addition to being perfectly prepared to face these adversities, have tricks to deal with turbulence. Slowing down and changing altitude are some of them. 

Although they are not completely accurate because nature is unpredictable and the weather can vary from one moment to another, there are forecasts and sensors installed in some cabins that are used to detect turbulence and its intensity. 

Inside an airplane there are factors that make turbulence more or less present. For example, the seats that are located in the center of gravity of the plane and in the wings notice these alterations less, while those that are in the tail of the plane are the ones that notice them the most. We must also take into account that the larger the plane and the seat, the less we will notice the turbulence. 

In these cases, is the use of the seat belt important?

Just as when we travel by car we use the seat belt on a plane, the same should happen. In situations of severe turbulence,
 the belt can save our lives or prevent bruises caused by the movement of the plane. In the event of entering a section of turbulence, the pilot will warn through the loudspeakers of what is happening and the measures that must be taken. 

Tips for dealing with turbulence

If you are one of those who fear air travel and even more so if turbulence occurs, don’t worry,
you have already seen that they are not dangerous and that by following a series of tips you can
face them calmly and have a pleasant flight. Here are some simple tricks that are available to anyone that can help you achieve a trip without disturbances. 

Go to the bathroom before taking off

If you are going to make a short trip, this trick can be very useful. Go to the bathroom before the plane takes off so you don’t have to get up during the flight. This way you will avoid dizziness in case of slight movements or even getting stuck in the bathroom during turbulence. If this happens, hold on to the handles you see to avoid falling. 

Choose your seat well

If you have the possibility, choose well the seat in which you are going to sit. The window , in many cases, makes you feel more secure. If you are terrified of flights, avoid emergency exits as your nerves can interrupt a possible evacuation. 

Learn about turbulence

Generally we fear the unknown, that is why it is recommended that before boarding the plane you inform yourself about
what turbulence is. You will realize that they are less dangerous than they seem!

Use the belt and keep small objects stored

If you enter a section of turbulence, keep your seatbelt on and you will avoid bumps, falls and dizziness. Also keep your personal belongings so they don’t fly out if the plane’s movements are too sudden. 

Hydration, distraction and breathing

Finally, remember these three factors. Throughout the trip, keep your body hydrated and try to distract yourself with some
activity (you can read, watch a movie and listen to music). In the event of stressful situations, try to control your breathing to avoid a panic situation.