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On Monday the return flight from Palm Springs was a scar one for me, at least during the take-off. The wind shear and wind blowing across the mountain pass combined create this turbulence that hit the plane. As soon as the plane lifted off the ground it began to bump to left and right. The sinking sensation that usually happens when the flaps are retracted was amplified by bumps. To be honest, even as a seasoned traveler, I was unnerved by the intense bumping as I felt the aircraft was struggling to climb and gain altitude.

The chaotic motion persisted well into the flight to the extent that beverage service was delayed. With one hand gripping the armrest, the other hand holding my book, I tried to lift my legs off the floor so I can minimize the impact. I find a book as captivating as Ken Follett’s A Dangerous Fortune a good distraction from the fright.

It’s comforting to know that airplane will hold up to the roughest of air. That said, I still prefer to be negotiating through turbulence in a wide-body jetliners like Boeing 777 than a CRJ. Moderate turbulence is strong enough to move things around in the cabin. As a test, you can set a cup or glass on your table. If it gets knocked off–and not just small sliding movements that take it over the edge–then you are likely experiencing moderate turbulence. You’d feel a definite strain against your seat belt.


8 Responses

  1. I have had those moments when I wonder if my time has come. I watch WAY too many plane crash movies.

  2. I remember coming back from Hawaii and we hit turbulence so bad I dropped my coffee. It was eerily silent on the plane after that. Because of the turbulence. Not my coffee-dropping. Just so ya know… 😉

    • My first time to Kauai I had bad turbulence about halfway through. The scary part of how quiet and still the cabin was. You could hear people breathe.

  3. Well the wind was horrible when you left! We left PS right before the BIG winds hit.

    I remember a similar experience I had on a flight back from Chicago. There was a 6″8″ UCLA basketball player crammed into the seat next to me and I swear, the both of us were about to cry. We hung on, I took Benadryl and we drank! Only because the flight attendants passed bottles of liquor down the aisle since they could not actually do a proper beverage service. You know it’s bad if they are MAKING you drink.

    It lasted for 2 hours of the flight and I thought we were all going down. I was so drunk at one point that I remember not caring! That poor basketball player had to play a game that night

    • Ourplane was bumping left to right as soon as we lifted off the ground, then while gaining altitude and banking right I felt a moment of zero gravity. That was a white-knuckled moment!

      My worst landing was Puerto Vallarta during thunderstorm. The FAs collected our trash and cups early, as advised by the pilot. You know it’s bad when the pilot/first officer made the announcement to tell people to buckle up. I tried to look out the window, just closed my eyes as the Boeing 737 navigated through bumps.

  4. Worst flight I ever had was from San Jose to Los Angeles. I felt like I was on a roller coaster right for the entire 58 minutes. It was bad enough that I couldn’t even manage to read. I’m a frequent flyer but still hate turbulence like you are describing. It is never something I get used to.

    • That’s really bad if you cannot read. I fly long-haul on a regular basis but I have never experienced the kind of turbulence like I do on domestic/commuter flights. The descent into Burbank could be bumpy as well.

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