What REALLY happens when a plane hits turbulence: A US Pilot reveals all

Turbulence rarely causes a flight to be delayed but none of us like it and it can terrify some people so much it prevents them from flying.  In an article on the Mail online this week Patrick Smith an active airline pilot and author suggests that turbulence is just an irritation and not dangerous at all.  Passengers have visions of the pilot wrestling with the controls and the plane about it plummet downwards but the reality is somewhat different and the plane may just be pushing to get back to its original course and have only dropped a few feet.

Many airlines now run courses designed to help people with aerophobia – a fear of flying – to overcome their fears by showing them the safety measures and systems that pilots use to keep passenger safe.


Mr Smith, who has been writing his award winning blog Ask The Pilot for some ten years and has recently written the book Cockpit Confidential, says that he “cannot recall a single jetliner crash caused by turbulence” alone.  “Airplanes are engineered to withstand an extreme amount of stress, and the amount of turbulence required to, for instance, tear off a wing, is far beyond anything you'll ever experience”

Media coverage of recent incidents involving turbulence on United Airlines and Cathy Pacific where passengers were injured is so rare that it’s the sort of thing even the most frequent flyer will not experience in a lifetime.

'First and foremost, turbulence is, for lack of a better term, normal,' he adds. 

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