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Air Turbulence – Overcome The Fear of Turbulence

 Air Turbulence


Air Turbulence, Fear of Turbulence, Air turbulence DangerousAir Turbulence is a reality in the minds of many travelers who fly for vacations or holiday events. For those whose business obligations require them to commute by plane more than once per week, Fear of Turbulence is the last thought on their mind. Research studies reveal that one-third of the world’s population claim to have experienced this phenomenon at least once.

The dictionary defines turbulence as a state of agitation or tumult; disturbed: turbulent feelings or emotions. According to e-zine article author Kevin R. David, the Fear of  Air Turbulence experienced by this portion of the population differs from one person to another. David maintains that the root of the Fear of Air Turbulence is based on myths or tricks certain brain cells inflict on the conscious mind.

Every airport is staffed with air traffic controllers who are responsible for monitoring radar alerts relative to changes in weather conditions and conveying this information to pilots who in turn are trained to adjust flight instruments accordingly to prevent or lessen the effect for passengers.

Highly acclaimed researcher, Kevin Davis further states that air turbulence has nothing to do with so called air pockets because this term does not exist in the vernacular of scientific terminology.. According to the laws of science, air pockets are impossible because at all times, air is above us, beneath us and around us; therefore, there is no room for holes to develop.  Air turbulence is basically triggered by thunderstorms, clear turbulence, convective turbulence and wake turbulence.

Please see video below by Captain Tom Bunn:

The most common type of air turbulence sometimes experienced during flights in the U.S., is Clear-air turbulence. This type of activity actually stems from ground level air patterns and in the majority of cases only comes into contact with planes flying through mountainous or high altitude terrain. Ironically, the predominant cause of clear turbulence is the intersection of jet plane air streams.

Convective turbulence is what passengers experience as the wheels are lowered in preparation for contact with the runway. Wake turbulence has such a minor effect on passengers that other than air traffic controllers, most fliers do not even know it exists. This unsettled air phenomenon is avoided by scheduling a two-minute gap of time between plane takeoffs.

Wake turbulence is the easiest for passengers to avoid if they observe the flight rules and restrictions offered by flight attendants and pilots. Requests made by these experts such as restriction of movement during taxi and takeoff, obeying seat belt lights and pilot warnings relative to them during the flight are most frequently ignored by many passengers. The main reason that there is little activity to be observed by flight attendants during takeoff is because they are required to observe identical rules and restrictions.

Whether clear-air, convective or wake turbulence, modern day planes are equipped with controls, especially autopilot, that are designed to detect and control turbulence. Therefore any feeling you physically experience, especially the fear of air turbulence are actually caused by the capacity of certain brain cells to trick other brain cells into thinking the situation is more dangerous than it actually is.


The paramount factor to remember relative to air turbulence is that it only qualifies as a safety issue on rare occasions and that it is a natural phenomenon whose occurrence is outside of mankind’s control. Two additional factors are that all pilots and air traffic controllers are trained in proper procedures and how to communicate with each other in the event that all else fails instrument wise; and that all modern day planes are built to withstand a high degree of air turbulence.


According to professional pilot, Steve Alright, who is based at Heathrow Airport in London, he has 10,000 hours of flying time to his credit and states that he has only experienced severe air turbulence one time in his entire flying career, and that air turbulence lasted less than five minutes. Alright also stated that pilots know why some passengers get excited or unnerved and how to reassure them. Professional pilots know that the majority of turbulence is no more dangerous than potholes in the roadway.

There is a simple science experiment that anyone can perform to better understand air turbulence. Items required for this experiment are a clean toy airplane, two small boxes or one large box of jello, a bowl and a baking tray. Prepare the jello according to package directions. Refrigerate one-half of the jello in the bowl until it is almost firm. After inverting the plane and placing it on the jello surface, add the remaining jello and return to the refrigerator until the mixture is completely jelled and firm to the touch. Invert the bowl on the baking tray. Tapping on the surface of the jello causes the plane to bounce. Essentially, the reason the plane was not disturbed is because the density of the mixture is too thick. Air density in the sky causes a plane to react in the same way.

All plane seats are safe, but your brain leads you to disagree. There are several measures that can be initiated. Window seats feature a wall on one side of your body which may stabilize your mind. Avoid wing seats because these are closer to the area of turbulence contact. Never sit next to the emergency exit. Use hygienic facilities aboard the plane prior to takeoff. This area is the worst place to be during a turbulence event.

Research studies confirm that in reality, the level of anxiety differs from one person to another a final suggestion is to remain belted during the entire flight. Adjust the seat tray and lock into normal position while you relax, read, watch the movie or enjoy a bird’s eye view of the sky from the window.

Aircraft manufacturers are constantly conducting scientific research relative air turbulence currently, experts in the science of aviation are working to improve the capability of planes to better detect air disturbance. Also in the pipeline are radar software developers whose goal is to create state-of-the-art software to measure levels of clear turbulence. Scientists are also experimenting with the enhancement of GPS systems to register erratic weather patterns 200 miles above ground and to transmit this information to the plane’s instrument panel.

Please see video below by

Common symptoms of the fear of air turbulence exhibited by passengers are: wide-eyes, fist clenching, heightened perspiration, and body language such as the frequent crossing and uncrossing of arms, knees, legs, ankles and feet. While six percent of adults admit to experiencing turbulence fear, in a recent survey, 35 percent of flight attendants and pilots admit to experiencing some level air turbulence issues many health professionals recommend abstinence from caffeinated beverages prior or during flight as caffeine is believed to heighten the state of anxiety. On the other side of the coin; however, dehydration also contributes to the sense of anxiety.

During a recent Huffington Post interview between Marlo Thomas and Captain Sully Sullenberger suggested that everyone should seize the next opportunity to be a passenger in a vehicle. Close your eyes, count and evaluate the frequency of bumps, jolts, noises and vibrations experienced during the ride. More turbulence is experienced on a daily basis in a vehicle than aboard a plane.

One factor many people associate with the turbulence fear is that as a passenger they have no control over the situation because they must entrust their life to a pilot they have never seen. Nothing is published or voluntarily made known about his/her flight record or how many hours have been logged for this flight prior to your boarding. For infrequent fliers, a wing seat can contribute fear because of what appears to be excessive movement of the wings. According to airplane manufacturers this is a carefully calculated function that undergoes extensive testing. While wing movement appears abnormal to passengers, it appears perfectly normal to the pilot and inflight personnel.

A physicist associated with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, located in Denver, stated that the only difference in experiencing turbulence during a roller coaster ride and a flight is that everyone aboard the plane is encased in an aluminum tube situated 30,000 feet above ground. Further remarks by this expert included the fact that clear air turbulence increases in winter and is most frequently experienced on flights over the Pacific Ocean. He said “It’s not about the plane but where the plane is.”

The best way to conquer the fear of turbulence is to conquer the fear of flying in general. Planes are equipped with powerful engines, sturdy, highly tested wings, instrument panels and with the capacity to detect turbulence as air enters the plane’s nose. Planes do not fly fast enough or high enough to enter outer space. Planes have in-built stability mechanisms to maintain a level cruising pattern just as most modern day vehicles can be operated via a cruise control mechanism designed to function the same way.

All planes and traffic control towers are equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art Doppler radar systems designed to detect wind shear associated with air turbulence. Regardless of whether your flight is non-stop or not, planes are inspected prior to takeoff for the express purpose of monitoring flight safety once a plane leaves the runway, and pilots can request an emergency landing should anything on the instrument panel indicates a potential in-air problem.


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