Real Answers from Real Pilots

Flying in turbulence

Hi,

This is my first post here. My question is about turbulence. I’m flying to build hours to get to the 80 hour mark to start the ATP program. I just recently got my private pilot certificate. I fly 172’s in Washington state and we get weather quite frequently. When flying and experience turbulence i understand you should slow down to maneuvering speed. My question is besides slowing down is there anything else you should watch for to keep the flight safe? Does it come down to comfort and experience level when flying through turbulent air?

Thank you,
Erik

Hello Erik and welcome,

Flying in turbulence is never fun (at least I don’t care for it) but if you’re going to fly airplanes it’s a fact of life. You’re correct, speed is important to avoid doing any structural damage. Beyond that it’s important to determine the source of the turbulence. Are you closer to that cell than you should be? If so you probably want to move. As far as safety goes turbulence is often associated with windsheer and windsheer (particularly on takeoff or landing) can cause you to have a bad day. It’s important to be mindful of the possibility that things can change very quickly. That means being prepared and ready to go-around or delay the landing (or takeoff) if necessary. As you said, experience will help with your comfort level and you’ll probably scare yourself a few times along the way. This is how we learn.

Adam

Erik,

For the enroute turbulence I usually find that an altitude change of a couple thousand feet usually takes care of the issue, of course this can be hard to do in a small airplane. I find that while turbulence is uncomfortable, it is very rarely unsafe as long as everybody is in their seats.

Chris

Not sure if the effects of turbulence are more intense in the back of the plane or in the front. But since you guys in the cockpit have harnesses which I am sure are more uncomfortable than a seatbelt especially over a longer period of time, do you run the risk of being injured in the cockpit by turbulence more than passengers? Or do you keep the harness on you throughout the flight?

Eric,

I’m not sure either where it’s worse but it can get intense over some big Pacific storms. Lap belts are on continuously throughout the flight (good idea plus it’s a reg). Shoulder harnesses for takeoff and landing AND any time we suspect turbulence.

Adam