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User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 43
Posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 1014 times:

I know this is a really, REALLY dumb question, but I just have to have a definitive answer. On my last trip back from New York to LAX (on a Continental 757), we hit really bad turbulence while going over the Rockies. It was the kind that immediately made me forget that turbulence is really not that dangerous, and where my butt cheeks were swallowing the seat. The person sitting next to me gave me the "calm down its ok" speech (which I later thanked him for). he said that turbulence is normal (especially while crossing the Rockies)and that at FL320, there is no danger, the plane could fly upside down if the CAT were to have that affect.
I didn't say anything, but I was a bit stupefied.
Now, for the dumb question. CAN a plane fly upside down, or was he just guilding the lily a bit?

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineMish1234 From Canada, joined Jun 1999, 298 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 885 times:


Im not sure but I did hear that a 737 and 747 aircraft could do a loop and fly up side down. Unless ur wings snap.. thats another story..

User currently offlineD L X From United States of America, joined May 1999, 12395 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 881 times:


Send me a PM at http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/sendmessage.main?from_username=NULL
User currently offlineVC-10 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 1999, 3727 posts, RR: 32
Reply 3, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 877 times:
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Yes, providing the structure is stressed for it and the engines fuel & oil system are designed for it.

Aerodynamically if the angle of attack is right an a/c will fly upside down. If you can find a picture of an inverted a/c you will see it flies tail down. In this tail down attitude the wing will be at the right angle of attack to generate lift.

User currently offlineWannabe From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 681 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 865 times:

With regards to VC-10's append, that would assume that the turbulence was smart enough to leave the plane inverted, level, and at the correct angle of attack. I know that any aircraft, in theory, should be able to do a 1G roll with no effect. There are those famous photos of the B707 Prototype doing a roll, much to the terror of those on the ground. I've seen it written in some places that most airliners would be difficult to pull out of a steep dive or spin. I guess we'd need a real ATP to tell us that.

Like Matt D., I don't care much for real hard turbulence either. The only comfort I have when experiencing it is that there are few instances where an aircraft has been severely damaged because of it. There was a TWA 707 that actually broke up over Mt. Fuji years ago, and a JAL 747 that lost an engine and suffered wing damage after departing Ankorage, AL. He was able to return to the airport with quite a bit of skill.

In any case, maybe it's because you get more chicken as you get older, but I prefer the smooth ride.

User currently offlineBizclass From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 847 times:

I also am liking the smooth rides more and more as I get older. I used to actually like the bumps and would hope it got bumpy at some point. I used to be the guys smiling at people who were digging their claws into the arm rests and their fellow passengers. Now I am somewhere in the middle ground where I don't really hate them but a smooth ride is always more comfortable now.

As for your question, Matt D, a plane can fly upside. Now, I'm not sure if you mean any plane or an airliner though. I have been to dozens of airshows where fighter planes fly the length of the runway completely inverted. I'm sure you have seen similar feats on TV or in real life. As far as airliners go, the only one I have seen go upside down was the 707 in Seattle. Well there was that Mandarin MD11 that went upside last year in Hong Kong but that is a little different story!  

User currently offlineC-fyow From Canada, joined Feb 2000, 116 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 836 times:

Hi. Matt!! Just read your question about turbulence, and noted with interest at the end of your remarks, you asked could an airliner fly upside down??

YEP it can, and here is the proof at:


select "airshow" from the list, and scroll down to see Tex Johnson rolling a boeing 367-80
in Seattle in 1955!!

If you want to read the complete story on this,
go to: http://www.seattletimes.com/news/local/

This will give you the account of how he sold an airplane on that day!!


User currently offlineVC-10 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 1999, 3727 posts, RR: 32
Reply 7, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 824 times:
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May I point out that rolling an aeroplane and maintaining sustained inverted flt are two completely different things

User currently offlineLeon From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 47 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 824 times:

I'm glad I'm not the only aging flier who hates turbulence. In an Air China 747-100 we dropped for what seemed like thousands of feet, with the engines twisting in their mounts. The flight was from Kai Tak to Bangkok. The center baggage column of the jet actually pullled free and was hanging down. Flight attendants (yes, FAs) wailing, and my wife screaming "who will raise our babies". Memorable. I've been frightened of turbulence ever since. The thing about it that made me most angry was that the pilot never came on afterwards to say anything. Total silence. I think that that is the absolute wrong approach, for any of you pilots out there. Is there some sort of company policy about that? Anyone else get the silent treatment?

User currently offlineTrident From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 484 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (16 years 2 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 801 times:

Airliners are not designed to be flown upside down. You can just about get away with it if you keep positive G on the structure, otherwise you will find yourself in big trouble. Tex Johnston very nearly lost his job over the roll he performed at Seattle. Subsequent to this incident, a US arline lost a 707 on a training flight when the instructor decided to prove that it was possible to roll a 707. He obviously didn't do it properly. The 707 which broke up in turbulence over Mount Fuji (1966) was a BOAC machine.

Earlier this week a BA 747-200 encountered severe turbulence over the Atlantic resulting in a lady passenger breaking her leg.

User currently offlineWannabe From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 681 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (16 years 2 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 797 times:

Trident, do you know where there is a report , NTSB or otherwise, that has the details of the unsuccessful roll of a US airliner? I'd be interested in reading the details. I've got to believe if you get the nose down while inverted, you probably won't recover.

I once heard that an Eastern Airline pilot did a 1g roll with an empty DC-9 or 727 down in the Miami area back in the 70's. I was never able to get it confirmed. If anyone knows anything about that one, it would be nice to know.

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