How much does the plane move in turbulence?

newguy_hates_turbulence

Super Lifetime Elite
Hi, everyone.

I recently came across the following article, written by the creator of SOAR, Tom Bunn: http://www.examiner.com/article/dealing-with-turbulence-when-flying

It discusses the topic of how much does the plane actually move in turbulence. I have read in several different books, blogs, news stories, etc. that in sever turbulence the plane can move up to 50 feet (even, hundreds if you believe the over-hyped tabloid's cover stories). However, this article challenges it by pointing out the fact that the altimeter is essentially a pressure reader. Have a read for yourselves. I am really interested to hear your opinions (and calculations). Has Capt. Bunn made an error with his science or are altimeter readings in turbulence misread?
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
I like the article. If you compare a plane ride to a car ride, a plane ride is smoother every time. I even have a video on my phone of some light, maybe moderate and it is still smoother than your typical car ride. Try putting a glass of water on your tray in a plane, and then try in a car, and tell me which is worse.
 

hokiemas

Lifetime Elite
I like the article. If you compare a plane ride to a car ride, a plane ride is smoother every time. I even have a video on my phone of some light, maybe moderate and it is still smoother than your typical car ride. Try putting a glass of water on your tray in a plane, and then try in a car, and tell me which is worse.
This. I finally got over my fear of turbulence by making a conscious effort to compare the bumps in the air to bumps I felt in my car. Even now, whenever I'm in the car and hit a bumpy patch of road, I remind myself that I've never felt air turbulence like that. How much am I over my fear? I'm flying from Mexico City to Atl. the end of September. The next day, I'm flying from Atl. to Richmond. 2 days later, I'm flying Richmond to Atl, Atl to Mexico City. 4 days later, Mexico City to Atl, Atl to Richmond, and then back again 4 days after that. At the height of my turbulence fears, I never would have been able to do that without losing serious sleep over it.

The only time I ever get a little nervous on the plane is when there is a lot of movement on takeoff, and even then, I'm pretty okay.
 

hokiemas

Lifetime Elite
Hey hoklemas. Nice to hear that. It's always comforting to hear a story like yours.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm over turbulence. When I was flying back the last time, I flew through an area that had a ton of orange pireps. I knew because the plane had in-air wi fi. I also got on flightaware and saw the weather I was flying through. It was pretty rough. The plane was constantly shaking for about the first 30-40 minutes of the flight. It was bad enough that they never turned the seat belt sign off an no drinks were served. The flight attendants didn't get up during that 30-40 minutes and after that, the flight was fairly smooth. I guess it was moderate at least at times because all the pireps indicated that, but it honestly wasn't as bad as I would have imagined before getting over my fear. The pilot was nice enough to get on the PA to tell us that the air was just bumpy and that all flights in the area were going through the same slop. I saved the pirep map and flightaware map just to be able to show myself that it isn't as bad as we all imagine. Flying again after xmas and I'm sure I'll get jet related turbulence. At this point, I say bring it on.
 

hokiemas

Lifetime Elite
Exactly right, well said.
I'm attaching 3 pics that I downloaded from this site and flightaware while I was in flight. I was flying from Richmond to Atlanta. The first picture is from flightaware and shows the weather I was flying through. If you look near RIC, you can see the flight path and where I was when I got on flight aware. The second picture is the turbulence advisory map, and the third is of the pireps during my flight. I guess my point here is, it honestly wasn't that bad. If I had seen maps like this prior to takeoff 2 or 3 years ago, I would have freaked out and possibly changed or cancelled my flight. It convinces me that my nightmare flight back in '08 was most likely thunderstorm related severe turbulence. Hope this calms some of the fears of those of flying through turbulence. FYI, I forgot to get a forecast for this particular flight.

photo 1.jpg

photo 2.jpg

photo 3.GIF

Realize pics are small. Sorry about that. Doesn't seem I can do much about it. Size of the images I saved, but I think they are more or less big enough to get the idea.
 
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