Captain David Crichton explains turbulence and why it’s completely normal. He talks about what causes turbulence, a few of the types and how they try to avoid it.
Turbulence explained by a pilot
Turbulence is just part of everyday life for us as pilots.
The first thing we have to appreciate, is that air acts exactly the same as water. It just less dense and it’s invisible. So if you can imagine a speedboat on a river, as a speed boat goes down the river, it creates quite a big wake behind the speedboat. And then if you’re in another boat, that goes behind the speedboat, you’re going to be a bit choppy.
Turbulence from terrain
One of the main contributors to turbulence is just the terrain of the world we live in. For example the alps are I think are about 700 miles wide. The airs going to go up and down over the mountains, and this creates the air above it to be very uneven.
Turbulence from the weather
Second one, is the weather itself. Once we get flying, we have our weather radar and it paints a lovely picture of all weather in front of us and we can see the thunderstorms, are basically the areas that come up red on our screen. It’s quite obvious, we don’t fly anywhere near them. So using the tools of the airplane we can navigate it all around the weather and try stay out of the really turbulent thunderstorms.
Clear air turbulence
The third type of turbulence that we really encounter these days is what we call clear air turbulence.
And this is caused by the jetstream. Some days these jet streams can be up to 200mph. And if you could just picture a nice big wide river – really fast flowing river. In the middle of the river, the water will flow very fast and at the side of the river, it’s probably a little bit slower. The jet streams are exactly like that.
Best thing to do, to help ease the pain of the turbulence if there is any, is just to take your mind of it. My best advice for turbulence is, one, trust us, trust the pilot, we know what we’re doing, we’ll do it as best we can to make it as smooth as we can. Two, take your mind off it. Certainly closing your eyes helps a lot. Listen to music. Maybe try and fall to sleep if you can. Thirdly, always keep your seat belt fastened, just in case you get any unexpected bumps out of the blue.