NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A lot of people fear turbulence when flying, and now, some scientists have said it could get a lot worse.
CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn took off himself in the air himself, in a Cirrus SR22 single-engine propeller plane, to report on the increasing turbulence problem. There have been some injuries as of late – all related to the horrible shaking of a plane.
And according to a new study by climatologists, the turbulence will get worse due to an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide comes from cars, factories, and even airplanes themselves – and it is causing an increase in unsteady air, the study said.
“You are going to have greater incidence of turbulence, — stronger turbulence; more incidents of severe turbulence,” said scientist Frank Colby.
Quinn explained the phenomenon is kind of like taking a boat into rough seas. You don’t want to fight it and there is going to be some shaking, and that is why your pilot always changes altitude to find smoother air.
But what is an annoyance for pilots can be terrifying for passengers.
“I’ve never felt so helpless in my life,” said one woman who has been through bad turbulence.
“I opened the door and all of a sudden, the plane dropped, I don’t know, 20 feet or something,” another passenger said.
“We were tilted onto our right side and started plunging,” the woman said.
Photos show turbulence that left items scattered all over the aisle of one plane. And the emotional toll can be just as bad, if not worse.
“I honestly thought that it was my last day on earth,” said airplane passenger Tracey Iverson.
Pilot and aviation expert Bob Beede said it makes sense that turbulence can produce such emotional reactions.
“It’s certainly a common anxiety, because you can’t see turbulence,” he said.
Researchers say the rise in carbon dioxide will likely increase turbulence intensity between ten and 40 percent in the North Atlantic by the year 2050.
But Beede, who has been flying for 25 years, reminded people not to panic. He emphasized that turbulence does not actually bring down planes.
“The aircraft are designed to absorb that turbulence and ride it out,” Beede said.
Topography is another huge influence on turbulence. If you are traveling over mountains, expect turbulence.
The spring season can also be a turbulent time in the air.
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