Posts: 109
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2001 12:53 pm

Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 2:48 am

First of all are they the same type of thing. Secondly I heard that when you hit them the plane will just drop, sometimes over 1000 feet. Have any of you felt this, how is it? Is it a slow drop or does the plane fall like a rock. I was on a Continental 777 a while back flying CDG-IAH, the pilot came on and said that we would be experiencing light turbulence for about a half an hour. Shortly after the announcement we got a few light bumps and then the plane suddenly dropped, not a lot but enough to wake a few people up. Was this an air pocket? I would have to say that I am not at all uncomfortable flying, but I hate the feeling you get in your stomach when you are falling, perhaps more than most, I hate rollercoasters for example, for no other reason than the feeling in your stomach. The thought that I may get on a flight where the plane may encounter turbulence like this for an extended period of time really makes me hesitant to fly. Or is that even possible, from what i've heard even in sever turbulence the plane may only drop once or twice. Thanks in advance
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RE: Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 5:33 am

"Air Pocket" is a general term for air turbulance used by the uninformed. Although I don't have an actual definition for the term "air pocket", I've been told that it's an area with no air--or a vacuum. Something which does NOT occur! Turbulance however, is simply unstable air, or air which is moving in different directions. This would be much like the currents in the ocean. It can be caused by several factors, such as uneven heating of the air, different air masses, other aircraft, geographic features (mountains), and a host of other things. Usually when the seatbelt light comes on, or the captain makes an announcement, you will only experience a few minor bumps. Rarely--but it DOES happen occasionally--will you be thrown about the cabin. That's why you're told to keep your seat belt on. In 30+ years of flying, only once have I ever had anything depart from my dinner tray. (on this one exception, I was flying as a passenger and holding my drink (glass) in my hand--suddenly it became empty!)

Enjoy your flight and wear your seatbelt. Occasional turbulence is just as normal as waves on the water.
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RE: Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 6:46 am

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

Turbulence is merely a ripple on the ocean of air.

Aviation is proof that, given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.
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RE: Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 8:18 am

I experienced what you would call an air pocket once and it scared the living daylights out of me and most of the passengers. We had just taken off maybe 5 minutes up and all of a sudden the plane just dropped for maybe 5 seconds or so. It was a very frightening experience and I hope to never encounter it again.
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RE: Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 8:22 am

I've only had 1 serious CAT encounter as a passenger. On a BA 767 a few years ago, we were about 2 hours into the cruise (i forget to where) and we were hit with a MASSIVE jolt, without warning. Most people were strapped in, but i remember that the f/a flew up and hit the ceiling. She was okay, though. The cart she was pushing flew up aswell, and it landed on an empty aisle seat. It was very lucky that the flight was realtivly empty.
Your bone's got a little machine
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RE: Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 8:28 am


These drops that you are talking about are called air pockets.

I've experienced them a lot, Denver (DEN) is quite famous for them.

When I flew on Lufthansa's FRA-DEN flight, when we were beginning our decent, the plane kept dropping maybe 200 to 300 feet, then goes up 200 to 300 feet. They weren't comfortable, and many passengers on the flight got a little worried.

I had never experienced such bad turbulence on a jet before like this time in Denver, although Denver is always turbulent due to the constant changing pressures, and un-even air currents created by the mountains.

However, the bumpiest experience I ever had was over New York. I was 6 years old, so I am not sure what the aircrat was. I think it was a Saab 340. I flew from New York LaGuardia (LGA) to Rochester, and there were huge thunderstorm in the air. The whole flight was very uncomfortable, I remember the flight attendant falling. The plane dropped to 700 feet several times, and went back up.

It was the first and ONLY time I have ever felt sick on a plane, I nearly vomitted, luckily I didn't though.

Since then, I've been a little paranoid to fly on turboprops.

However, I recently flew on an ATR 72 from MIA to NAS, and NAS-MIA on an ATR 42, and they both were pleasant experiences.

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
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RE: Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 8:29 am

I experienced one episode of CAT (out of 29 flight legs)while flying SWA from TPA to CMH. We were flying more or less smoothly, already into our initial descent, and the fasten seatbelt sign came on suddenly.The ride began to deteriorate. A few seconds later, a large jolt was inflicted on us. I felt my body pull up and strain the seatbelt. People actually screamed. It was a very warm cabin and we were full. I felt like smacking the people who screamed. I was nervous enough and I was playing the I'm-not-afraid game. After about 5 seconds the ride smoothed right out and we crossed the Ohio River and landed in Columbus with out further incident. BTW, the same folks who screamed, began clapping as the ride evened out. I wanted to smack them again.
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RE: Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 11:42 am

With respect, are any of you certain on how far your aircraft dropped or rose...it's easy to say 'we dropped 200 feet' but I flew just this week and they STILL arent building altimeters into the seatbacks in coach!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

With that in mind, I know 'air pocket' is not the most scientific of terms. But it was a good term to use to describe the jolt our 737 experienced on final into Cleveland Hopkins. It was a silk smooth approach until it felt like being in a pickup truck with bad shocks going over a speed bump in a parking lot. One big 'ka-thunk'....and it was over in a second and we continued to the runway in smooth air! It was really weird.
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RE: Clear Air Turbluence And Air Pockets

Mon Sep 10, 2001 2:11 pm

The only one so far who has described a "real" air pocket and even used the correct name for it (CAT - Clear Air Turbulence) is 777236ER.
What the rest of you have experienced, even though it might be uncomfortable, is just normal turbulence, created by the local shifts in weather all around the world.

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