Here are some definitions...
"Turbulence - called 'clear-air turbulence' when it occurs in otherwise calm, blue skies - is caused when a mass of air moving at a particular speed meets another mass of air that's moving at a different speed. It's often created by jet streams, thunderstorms, weather fronts and air moving around mountains. Physicists describe turbulence as "turbulent flow," or the movement of a gas or liquid in which the fluid undergoes irregular mixing, causing changes in the fluid's speed, pressure and direction."
Another definition that Richard Conway found:
Experience of discomfort during inflight turbulence is due to three forces at work: downwards acceleration of the plane leading to transient feelings of weightlessness; upwards acceleration of the plane leading to transient feelings of heaviness, and transverse or sideways acceleration of the plane, leading to feelings of disorientation.
All these physical sensations can often be experienced as discomfort, and if very strong, can cause nausea, dizziness, light-headedness and perspiration.
The language that we use in commercial airlines to describe turbulence is 'three levels - light, moderate and severe.' This is what the levels mean to us in the cabin.
• Light Turbulence:
Light turbulence momentarily causes very slight, erratic changes in the aircraft altitude:
- Passengers may feel a slight strain against seat belts
- Slight wobble
- Easy to walk around the cabin for cabin crew. Captain may have put seat belt signs on for passengers to sit down
Moderate turbulence, causes bumps or jolts:
- Passengers feel definite strain against seat belts
- It is difficult to walk or stand in cabin. Cabin crew may be asked to sit down at this time
• Severe Turbulence
Severe turbulence causes abrupt changes in the aircraft altitude and attitude and this is normally for a very short period of time:
- Any unsecured item will momentarily leave the floor
- It is impossible to walk around
- It is extremely rare
The aircraft move 'feet' not thousands of feet as often reported. What we feel versus what happens are two different things. Don't believe everything that you read...
Turbulence is another word for movement of air. Air is always moving. It is normal. Aircraft are much stronger than any turbulence to bother it. Us, with our fragile bodies, are vulnerable to movement because a small wobble can make us fall over. If you have ever been on a train, you will know how difficult it is to negotiate your journey back from the buffet car without sitting on someone's unsuspecting lap?! If you are flying and they ask you to put seatbelts on, put your seatbelt on and you will come to no harm. Turbulence is uncomfortable but not dangerous. No-one says that you have to like the feelings of flying. However, should we let that stop us flying??? We think not.
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic flying without fear
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