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Things that go bump in the air…

3233 Things that go bump in the air...

I used to hate turbulence. Now I have kids, so I have to pretend I don't. Which means it still makes my palms sweaty every single time it happens, but I don't grip the arm-rests quite so determinedly any more. Psychologists always suggest the best way of dealing with fear is to confront it, so here goes…

3234 Things that go bump in the air...

Knowledge is power, as they say, and turbulence rarely causes injuries or death. That's important to remember. It's a frequent weather phenomenon that happens due thanks to atmospheric pressures, jet streams, cold or warm fronts, mountain waves, thunderstorms, or even the wake stream from a passing aircraft. Usually, pilots can spot it on their radar (or they are warned by air traffic control) and inform passengers, but occasionally it's invisible and in a perfectly clear sky.

3236 Things that go bump in the air...

So, if you've ever wondered why you're always asked to keep your seatbelt on, you can probably guess. Most accidents occur to unbelted passengers in sudden bouts of unexpected turbulence. Here are some reassuring stats… From 1981 to 1996, there were two reported deaths from turbulence on major carriers, 63 serious injuries, and 863 minor injuries. Both of the dead, and 61 of the seriously injured were not wearing seat belts.

3235 Things that go bump in the air...

If turbulence does becomes a safety hazard, the pilot would divert the flight, landing in a different airport if necessary. And remember, falling out of the sky is extremely unlikely. Even a sudden drop of a few hundred feet is very rare. Planes are controlled by autopilot, which helps maintain a constant height. Reassuring to know. RM

Images: (second from top) NASA Langley Research Center; (map) turbulenceforecast.com

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