Yemi Bankole is a long-time friend of mine. His friendly and calm nature makes him a perfect fit for his job as a flight attendant with a reputable local airline, which he has been doing for the last five years.
Just yesterday, he called to tell me he had the most terrifying flying experience ever.
It was extreme turbulence.
Turbulence can be very frightening and uncomfortable. The mere experience of being 37,000 feet above the ground and being violently tossed from side to side in an aeroplane cabin is nerve-wracking for anyone. The interesting thing is that turbulence is no cause for alarm and even severe turbulence is hardly dangerous.
Turbulence is just like a bumpy ride in the sky. It may be regarded as an unsteady or violent movement of air that causes the aircraft to bounce or shake.
Turbulence occurs for a number of reasons, which include a change in the airflow, jet streams, hot rising air usually from thunderstorm clouds, landscapes (objects near the plane like mountains or skyscrapers). It is not because the aeroplane is faulty.
What to expect during extreme turbulence?
Actually, for a moment, the aeroplane may be out of control. You may feel severe shaking of aircraft, a noticeable strain against your seatbelt, and even objects and luggage not properly secured away may even fall or be tossed around.
Mild turbulence may even go unnoticed by passengers. Extreme turbulence happens once in a very rare while. Just like Yemi who has been flying every day of his life for the past five years just experienced extreme turbulence for the first time.
What is the first thing to do if turbulence occurs?
Keep calm and buckle your seatbelt immediately. If you happen to be in the toilet or standing, rush to your seat and buckle your seatbelt. Do not panic and try to reassure other passengers seated next to you. The most likely way anyone would sustain an injury during turbulence is if your seatbelt is unbuckled, the force of the turbulence may hit you against an object and injure you.
Most times, pilots already know when they are going to hit turbulence from weather and radar reports. Turbulence is completely normal and many of us have experienced mild turbulence while in flight without even knowing.
Can Turbulence cause a plane to crash?
“it is rare and the industry has worked over the years to reduce the risk,” says American Senior Aviation Consultant Adrian Young.