I’m a frequent flyer but actually have a mild fear of turbulence. Fear of the unknown is the root of all emotion disturbance. This is all too true when it comes to flying. Turbulence, is the second biggest fear amongst travelers (actually crashing is the number one fear).
Flying smaller planes across the North Sea back in Europe helped me overcome most of it, but some days I still get ultra-nervous when that seatbelt sign comes on mid-flight. When, on a recent flight to Las Vegas, they never turned off that pesky seatbelt sign, I knew we were in for a ride. Even the cabin crew never left their seats. The good news was that the winds were so strong we made it to Vegas half an hour faster than usual. The bad news? I was white-knuckling it the whole way. And with me many others.
Watch the video:
There has to be a better way
On arrival I promised myself to learn more – and share my findings. As with many fears I think some research and understanding what actually happens and how planes are built to withstand many types of turbulence would help me deal with this better so I can enjoy my on-board coffee / wine more 🙂
According to several aviation specialists, turbulence is completely normal. The most common form of turbulence is what’s known as Clear Air Turbulence (CAT). CAT is more prevalent during winter months and, more recently has increased due to climate change. Unfortunately, CAT is virtually impossible to detect using modern instruments and, therefore, virtually impossible to avoid.
My fear of travel
However, there is hope for all you nervous travelers (yes, myself included – read this story about why I travel anyway, despite the unpleasantries). As many pilots will attest, turbulence is simply wind going around the plane. Sometimes you can actually hear it (when you take off your noise canceling headphones). More scientifically, turbulence is the movement of air around planes caused by wind, air pressure, nearby jet streams, and other atmospheric conditions. Long story short, it’s just air.
According to Barry Schiff, a pilot and aviation specialist, “…flying through turbulence is like navigating choppy water on a lake. In both cases, slowing down can reduce how intensely the choppiness affects the machine.”
In addition, according to Patrick Smith, another pilot and aviation expert, the best seats on a plane to mitigate the effects of turbulence is, more or less, in the center of the plane – over the wing. The rear of the plane takes the brunt of the turbulence jolts.
What you can do to make it better
The one thing that helped me overcome my fear of turbulence as much as possible was to travel more. By getting on board of airplanes more often, I got used to the motions and made myself as comfortable as possible while traveling. The principles I teach in my Travel Revolution travel hacking program are the cornerstone of this.
The good news? Your plane probably isn’t going to crash. In the end, all aviation experts agree that the best way to mitigate the potential effects of turbulence is to remain seated with your seatbelt fastened. Most, if not all, injuries due to turbulence were caused by people not sitting down with their seatbelt fastened. So next time, don’t be “that guy” who gets up to go to the bathroom anyway.
Bon voyage, friends.