Extreme Turbulence While In A 12 Seater Plane

September 15, 2010

in Airplane Stories

My dad and I flew from Denver to Farmington, NM on what can only be described as a crop duster back in 2007. When we got to the gate in Denver, which was our connection airport, the gate had been changed on us, twice. Once we finally got to the plane they told us we would have to gate check our carry-ons. Not a big problem at all; that’s not all that uncommon and I’ve had to do it before. But then we walked out onto the runway to board the plane and saw that it only had about 6 windows. Once we got on, we realized there were no flight attendants, no overhead bins, and about 12 seats total, not counting the pilot’ seats. You could also see the cockpit from your seat because there was no door.

After takeoff, somewhere over the Colorado desert, the plane began to shake back and forth, getting worse by the minute. Soon everyone began to freak out, screaming (which was very unnecessary). Even my Dad, who is always very calm, started to get nervous, and started holding onto the seat in front of him because there were no arm rests. I have never seen turbulence that bad, or been on a 12 seater plane. We had to take the same plane back and listen to one of the same people that was screaming before scream even louder on the way back!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan September 15, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Sounds like an FFH to me.


Les September 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm

One of my worst flying experiences was on a commuter flight from Detroit to Columbus on a day with scattered thunderstorms. Even though it would have been easy to fly around the storms, the pilots took us straight through two towering storm clouds and we hit severe down drafts in both. There was screaming; even the flight attendant looked scared. And, of course, there was no reason for it except to get there a few minutes earlier.



RF September 30, 2010 at 9:39 am

Riggghhhtttt Les cause your seating up in the cockpit and know what is going on. Quit playing armchair quarterback cause you look stupid


Les October 11, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I could easily see the huge gaps between the thunder heads out the side windows of the plane. My brother had a private pilot's license for several years, one of my best friends (and past flight instructor) is an airline pilot. During a few flying lessons that I had years ago, I took off, landed, navigated and recovered from aggrevated stalls among other things. All of it with great consideration for safety. Check on http://www.ntsb.gov to see how many planes have come apart in the air because or turbulence or pilot error. Try searching for "structural failure" for a start. And don't ever try to be a pilot yourself; you don't have the judgement.


Dylan Sallee September 30, 2010 at 6:02 pm

This is so stupid! My dad is a flight attendant and not only is this violating extremely serious federal laws. It is completely improbable. I would not happen. End of Story.


Les October 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm

It's done, sometimes with tragic results. You don't watch the news very much, do you! Check on http://www.ntsb.gov to see how many planes have come apart in the air because of turbulence or pilot error. Try searching for “structural failure” for a start.


War Eagle! December 3, 2010 at 7:40 am

From what you described it sounds like you were in a Beech 1800D. A small turbo-prop but far from a crop duster. It is not uncommon flying over the desert to experince moderate turbulance from the thermal heating that is given off. Beechcraft makes a very tough plane and it takes a hell of a lot of turbulance to break one up. Most aircraft that have stucture failure are because they were flown into thunderstorms that have up and down drafts that put to much stress on the aircraft. You do also have non-pro pilots that exceed Vne in turbulance and it will cause the aircraft to break up.

Les you did not fly through a thunderstorm. You flew through cumulus build up which is caused in the summer by thermal heating given off during the day. We refer to them as speed bumps. I have flow through plenty of those in aircraft much smaller than a regional jet or turbo-prop. Yeah you get a nice jolt but it is not going to rip the plane apart. Very few aircraft break apart each year and of the ones that do very rarely is it an airline aircraft. I have a degree in aviation management and I work as an aviation insurance underwriter.


au over ga December 3, 2010 at 11:22 am



Les December 3, 2010 at 2:58 pm

To be more technical, the clouds were cumulonimbus. The clouds were very tall, ranging from a few thousand feet above the ground to at least 15,000 ft., and the effect of each of the downdrafts on the plane was not a "jolt" or "bump" but rather a precipitous descent that lasted 3 to 5 seconds. Also, the clouds were separated by several miles so it would have been easy to fly around them. The maximum safe speed to fly through turbulance is "maneuvering airspeed", written Va,(actually the maximum speed at which it is safe to fully deflect a control surface). Vne is the maximum safe airspeed in still air. "Safe" here means without structural damage.


Peyton June 30, 2013 at 12:51 am

OMG i used to live in farmington nm!!!! oh and your right there isnt flight attendants on those little planes. next time u should fly into durango


Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post:

Next post: