By Angel MedFlight Contributor
Anyone who has flown has felt the bumpy and nerve-rattling phenomenon known as turbulence. Those who from the outset have a fear of flying are left white-knuckled as they grab the armrests and close their eyes as they feel the slight rhythmic changes in altitude. But if you only know more about what causes turbulence and how pilots deal with it, you will feel a lot more at ease the next time you feel some choppy air up in the wild blue yonder.
First, you should know that turbulence is quite common during flights. But because Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance utilizes a fleet of Learjets and a Citation X, we can fly above the weather and that means a much more comfortable flight for the patient and passengers.
There can be choppy air on any flight. Aviation West Charters Director of Operations Brandon Kearns says the best way to explain turbulence is knowing that air has the same properties as water. “Imagine you are going down a river. The river might seem smooth and calm one minute, but then there might be a patch of water up ahead that is rippling. This rippling could be due to the river bottom or two parts of the river converging on one another. This will cause the same ‘smooth’ water to now become disturbed. And even though you are just as safe as before, the boat might now hit a few bumps as you pass through.”
Just how common is turbulence? Kearns says it’s an everyday part of the flying experience. “It can be caused by two air masses converging on one another. It also happens when you are flying over mountains and the air at the surface is being forced up the slope and into your path.”
While there are many classifications of turbulence, Kearns points out that pilots know what meteorological phenomenon will cause disruptive and uncomfortable rides for the passengers and will go to great lengths to stay away from them. “Most turbulence is just a rough portion of air that is churning and the aircraft is just passing through,” says Kearns.
So next time your ride on an airplane gets bumpy and you feel some apprehensiveness, remember the science of turbulence and think of Kearns’ comparison to ripples in water. It’s just a rough patch of air and pilots are doing their best to fly around it and make you more comfortable.
Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance is committed to the safety, care and comfort of our patients. Choosing us for your medical flight means state-of-the-art jets cruising at higher elevations and thus creating a smoother flight.