Terror in the Skies

Turbulent flights seem to be reported more frequently these days, and I myself have been involved in a few terrifying experiences in the sky.

turb2

Turbulence is what nervous fliers fear the most when they board an aircraft. It is also the most common cause of injury to air passengers – pilots will always keep their seatbelts fastened while seated on an aircraft and will usually advise you to do the same. For a more detailed idea of what causes turbulence, please check out this article from telegraph.co.uk.

I found the video above, that was taken onboard a British Airways flight from Buenos Aires to London. Just look at the severe turbulence those poor passengers are experiencing, despite being on a massive B777 aircraft!

Singapore Airlines cabin after some heavy turbulence
Singapore Airlines cabin after some heavy turbulence (Photo: Alan Cross)
The aftermath of Flight SQ308 hitting turbulence.
The aftermath of Flight SQ308 hitting turbulence.

In October 2014, there was a Singapore Airlines A380 flight from Singapore to Mumbai which had severe turbulence on its final descent into the airport there. It is said that this turbulence at 15,000ft was caused by dirty air from another aircraft taking off perpendicular to this one. I find it surprising that such a large aircraft as the A380 can be affected so badly by turbulence of wake like this. On this occasion, as the aircraft was attempting to land in Mumbai, 22 people were seriously injured. Read more about this incident at the Wall Street Journal. Completely unrelated to that event, I did notice recently that another A380, this time belonging to Air France, encountered severe turbulence flying to New York, and the pilot thought to be so severe that he turned back to Paris.

sqss

cabindamage

One of the most terrifying flights I have endured with a flight from Singapore to Tokyo on Singapore Airlines, where I can vividly recall the captain coming on the PA system and informing us that due to warnings radioed in from planes flying on the same route ahead of us about pretty harsh turbulence, we must return to our seats and fasten our seatbelts. We were also informed that this turbulence was probably going to last for at least 45 minutes. Sure enough, it got very bumpy and it was not an enjoyable experience. There were no huge sudden drops or vicious swings from side to side, but it was a constant bumpiness that just scared me a little! The palms of my hands were beginning to sweat, that’s for sure!

airasiax

Another time, I can remember flying on Air Asia X from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu, and the arrival into the Kathmandu Valley was absolutely terrible, and this was unquestionably the worst landing that I have had to experience. It was completely dark outside, too, which just made matters worse, plus we were not warned of any expected bumps. On the final descent, probably no more than 30 seconds from the ground in flying time, the aircraft (an Airbus A330) began swaying and crabbing from side to side quite viciously, so much so that I swear I could see the fuselage twisting as I looked down the cabin! My French travel companion seemed to take it all in his stride, although I was once again left enduring squeaky bum time! When the plane landed safely on the tarmac at Kathmandu, I breathed a sigh of relief – although I didn’t then realise the VISA complications I would have to suffer once in the terminal building.

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