Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The Season Of Turbulence
The summer heat is around the corner, and so is the cobblestone sky
One method of flying smoother is to fly higher than you normally might.The ride will probably become rougher as you lose altitude and descend into more turbulent air. If you have the option, extending the gear can help minimize the pain and stress on the airplane. Even if the air is smooth enough, high descent rates generally aren't a good idea, as they can cause sinus discomfort in some passengers. Whatever the descent rate, advise your passengers of the Valsalva maneuver (take a breath, close your mouth, hold your nose and blow to relieve pressure on your sinuses). Alternately, a wide yawn may accomplish the same purpose.
There's little question that turbulence is one of the less fun aspects of flying. Some pilots simply refuse to fly when the sky is choppy and unstable. Others drive straight through bone-rattling turbulence the Air Force wouldn't consider challenging with a hurricane hunter.
You'll have to make your own decision as to what comprises an acceptable level of chop. It's certainly possible to be too conservative and leave the airplane parked any time the summer temperature is above 80 degrees and there are clouds or wind about. The upside is there's absolutely no chance of a problem if you don't go.
Aborting up front may sometimes be a better alternative than "taking a look." If you expect to have a queasy passenger aboard or someone totally new to flying, the wise choice may be to stand down. That way, you won't terrify someone new to flying, and you can excuse yourself for leaving your $50,000-$1 million airplane parked in its hangar while you take the airline.
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