Matt D
Topic Author
Posts: 8907
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 1999 6:00 am


Thu Mar 02, 2000 5:40 am

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?
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Joined: Sat Jun 05, 1999 7:05 am

RE: Turbulence

Thu Mar 02, 2000 5:46 am


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..
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Can A Plane Fly Upside Down?

Thu Mar 02, 2000 5:48 am


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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 1999 11:34 am

RE: Turbulence

Thu Mar 02, 2000 5:48 am

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.
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Joined: Wed Jun 30, 1999 3:37 am

RE: Turbulence

Thu Mar 02, 2000 6:26 am

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.

RE: Turbulence

Thu Mar 02, 2000 7:57 am

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!  
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RE: Turbulence

Thu Mar 02, 2000 9:05 am

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:

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

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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 1999 11:34 am

RE: Turbulence

Thu Mar 02, 2000 10:33 am

May I point out that rolling an aeroplane and maintaining sustained inverted flt are two completely different things
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 1999 10:51 am

RE: Turbulence--hate It

Thu Mar 02, 2000 10:53 am

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?
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Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2000 4:49 am

RE: Turbulence

Sat Mar 04, 2000 5:59 am

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.
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Joined: Wed Jun 30, 1999 3:37 am

RE: Turbulence

Sat Mar 04, 2000 7:25 am

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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