Wednesday, July 21, 2010

turbulence

I read this morning that UAL Flight 967 hit turbulence so severe it injured dozens of people.  The plane diverted and people were taken to the hospital.

I have flown a fair amount, and there are two VERY memorable flights that I will never forget.  One flight was actually on UAL and I was flying into Salt Lake City.  For the last, oh, 20-30 minutes of the flight we were in this weird air that wasn't necessarily turbulent that make the plane shake, rather it made the plane sway.  It would make this swaying movements up and down and side to side.  It lasted forever.  People all around me were getting sick.  I was fortunate enough to make it to a toilet in the terminal before I got sick.  I was nauseous the rest of the day...even the hotel elevator made me nauseous. 

The other memorable flight was on Southwest from San Antonio to Chicago Midway.  We were below 10,000 feet and coming in for the landing.  All the sudden the plane dropped a good 1,000 feet (or so it seemed).  I really don't know how much it fell.  But, I do know it was a lot.  I also know that it was enough that immediately after the drop the pilot powered up the engines and we regained altitude. 

As usual, Steve doesn't like to speculate what happened.  I don't know what it is about him, but I can ask him something and he will never give me a direct answer.  So, after this fearful flight I asked "what do you think happened?" and his response was probably something like "Joanna, I am not sure. It could have been a number of things."  Ugh!  It wasn't until I was talking to his pilot buddy about the incident when I finally got a possible answer.  Wind sheer. 

On that SWA flight I clearly remember a young father walking back from the bathroom with his young son when the drop happened.  They were in the aisle and clung onto the seat backs so tightly!  All I could remember was "see what happens when you go to the bathroom when we are below 10,000 feet and the seat belt sign is on!"  I hate to preach, but it really is important to keep your seat belts fastened when in your seats and to follow the Captain's orders about when you can get out of your seats.

I don't believe that Steve has hit severe turbulence.  There was a flight a couple months ago where the turbulence was "annoying." I guess they were too heavy to get higher into smoother air, so they just flew in the "annoying" turbulence.  Now, if I were a passenger on that flight I wouldn't have been annoyed, I would have been nervous! 

Safe travels everyone!

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