Flying Anxiety - Airplane Turbulence Gets a Bad Reputation

By D. J. Frost

Airplane turbulence has a bad reputation for those with flying anxiety.

The reason that airplane turbulence takes the blame is because it touches your senses in a very real way. You FEEL the plane moving around differently. You SEE the coffee cup shaking. You HEAR the pilot tell you to fasten your seat belt.

What causes the turbulence and how much of a safety problem is it?

As a child, did you ever lay back on a lazy day a watch the clouds drift by? I spent countless hours imaging different shapes in the clouds. In fact, I still look up at the clouds and see a face or an animal.

It's a different story when we fly through the clouds. Those creamy white clouds don't seem to like getting run over by an airplane.

The bumpiness that we feel in an airplane when flying through clouds is just the movement of the air. It's an updraft of going from warm air to cool air and it creates a bouncy ride.

You might wonder why you feel turbulence and you don't even notice any clouds.

Instead of clouds, you may see mountains. There is something called 'mountain waves' which also creates turbulence. Within all the nooks and valleys of a mountain range are variations of temperatures. Thinking back to science class you'll remember that warm air rises. All these variations of temperatures are moving and circulating which creates turbulence.

Does airplane turbulence create a air safety problem?

You may not like mild turbulence. If you have a fear of flying, it may cause you to grip your armrest until your knuckles are white. Your heart may beat faster or your stomach may knot up in discomfort. But it does not cause any kind of air safety issue.

The chance of a flight safety problem is very slight. Pilots are well trained to handle the situation because we practice and rehearse this very situation twice a year in a simulator. Hands on experience with turbulence tells us it's time to make some changes not only for flight safety but also for the comfort of our passengers.

When I hit turbulence, I simply check in with the air traffic controllers and ask if other pilots have reported smoother altitudes. Then I'll slow down and go to the altitude where I'm likely to find less bumps.

So, what can you do when turbulence strikes? Stay in your seat with your seat belt fastened. We'll be moving to a smoother air space as fast as we can.

The pilots don't want a bumpy ride either.

Pilot DJ Frost, international pilot, hypnotist and speaker is the creator of the "Lose The Fear And Fly!" system to help people overcome fear of flying. He is an active pilot for more than 29 years, a certified hypnotist and NLP Master Practitioner. DJ is a featured expert on TV and radio shows such as FOX News, ABC, CBS, Radio America and more. His blog brings you behind the scenes, in the cockpit videos and commentary so you can feel safe in the skies. Discover how you can have peace of mind and feel safe before during and after your flight at

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