March 2013 Issue

Turbulent Times

I enjoyed reading Dr. Michael Banner’s article, “Riding The Storm Out,” in January’s issue. It was highly enlightening and well-written. I will now adopt the VB speed after reading the article. However, I would like to ask what pilots should do in those cases when turbulence is unanticipated. For example, what is a pilot to do when all of a sudden he/she enters an area of clear air turbulence or sudden severe disturbances in the surrounding air mass? I understand that convention has it that clear air turbulence occurs most commonly at higher altitudes. Nevertheless, are there some pearls of wisdom for us if we are travelling at cruise speeds and suddenly encounter increased G forces? Also, after flying through turbulence, how do we know if we have possibly endangered the plane’s physical structure (for future flights), but not quite to the point of “breaking it”?

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