Buckle Up

Graphic of a large commercial airplane flying through clouds on a nice day.

A recent flight between Orange County, California and Seattle, Washington is one the passengers and crew will never forget.

The Embraer regional jet had to make an emergency landing in Reno, Nevada after encountering strong air turbulence.   

There’s a good chance you saw the video circulating on social media, including an image of a beverage cart tossed to its side.  The cabin was a mess and some people were hurt.

During my reporting days in Denver, I covered several such cases.  I remember covering the story of a Boeing 777 flying from DC to LA. The plane was forced to divert to Colorado after hitting rough and unstable air.

While the bumps may be unsettling, turbulence itself won’t cause a jumbo jet to fall to the ground.  As one pilot told me, it’s kind of like hitting waves on a boat.

The technology to detect turbulence ahead of time is constantly improving.  Yet there is one thing you can do to prevent getting hurt: wear your seatbelt, not just when the sign is turned on but during the entire flight.  It’s what the women and men in the cockpit do.

The danger is real.  The FAA keeps track of turbulence related injuries every year.  Here’s how the numbers break down, combining passengers and crew.

2014 – 31 injuries

2015 – 21 injuries

2016 – 44 injuries

2017 –  17 injuries

Bottom line:  Buckle Up – in the car and on the plane!

By Marc Stewart