Airplane Hits An Air Pocket

October 5, 2010

in Weather Stories

My first flight was when I was 8. I once thought flying was fun as I had flown domestically and overseas to Germany with never an issue. I had started working for a new company and needed to fly to Chicago for training. I remember it was a non-stop from Dallas to Chicago.

On the way there, the pilot told us they had storms coming in and that it could be a little rough during our approach.

As we got closer to O’Hare, the turbulence became stronger and less predictable. I am guessing that it was really bad down below because we started circling the airport and often hitting some pretty rough patches where the plane would pitch, roll or drop. At one point this went on for a good 5 minutes and all of us started to come unnerved. Finally, after about 45 minutes, the pilot said the tower had approved a short window for some of the planes to land.

As we made our approach from the north, the pilot was executing the standard rolls as we declined. And yes there was a high amount of pitching and rolling and drops. Many women and men were voicing their displeasure and anger as we had been shaken and jolted for well over 2 hours.

What made this distinctive was when we broke through the lower level clouds. I remember I could see the lights on the ground and that there were rain droplets hitting the window. As we turned for another angling descent, the plane literally dropped like a rock and I honestly thought we were flipping all the way over. It appears we had hit an air pocket (that’s what one of the flight crew said after we landed) and dropped a good 600-800 feet. When we dropped, the woman sitting next to me grabbed my leg and screamed. This of course scared the bejesus out of me and I screamed. Then it seemed like many people started screaming, crying and yelling.

After that drop, it was rough the rest of the way in but nothing like that big drop.

Since then I don’t like to fly but I will.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

D-Money October 6, 2010 at 1:38 am

Oh yes, when you're flying through the air, you must always be prepared for pockets of … air. 😛

They really need to come up with a better name.


Laura October 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

That sounds awful. I'd be freaking out that someone would throw up near me and set off a vomit chain reaction…those are the worst


mimo March 15, 2012 at 9:19 am

O.M.G. this story is too fake!


collins September 18, 2012 at 3:06 am

i have been in plane and we hit an air pocket,it was bad, i thought it was my end.


Borsy July 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Ok you’re just retarded.


collins September 18, 2012 at 3:09 am

i have been in a plane and we hit an air pocket, we drop from the air with speed for 45-60 secs. it was bad, since then i am so scared to fly,


Stuart October 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Air pockets do not exist!


rvanhorn3rd December 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

The use of "air pocket" is just a term to describe air turbulence or wind sheers that will cause an aircraft to dip. Yes there is recorded instances of hundreds of feet that an aircraft can drift quickly downward giving the passengers the sensation of a free fall. Usually this is due to thunderstorms but these storms are usually low enough to fly over but you DO have to occasionally fly into them.


stu October 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm
Private Porksword December 30, 2012 at 12:37 am

This is exactly how the legend of "Mr.Poopy Pants" came to be.


Shane December 17, 2015 at 4:02 pm

The air pocket you thought you went through was likely a microburst. It is a downdraft of wind that can exceed 60 mph. It quite localized and usually less than a mile in diameter. They are strong enough to push down any commercial aircraft. They can be very dangerous to aircraft near the ground that do not have enough altitude to recover but are not a serious threat to aircraft at higher altitude and mostly just gives a exciting or scary ride to passengers. Passenger in airplanes need to realize that turbulence is just a fact in aviation. And passengers are very demanding of airlines who do their best meet the demands of their passengers and make them happy. Passengers want smooth, safe flights that get to were they want to go at the right time and on time. But problem is the weather that we can't control that can make rides unpredictable and bumpy and sometimes unsafe. Passengers get upset when flights are delayed or takes longer than predicted, but it is almost alway a safety issue that causes the delay that could risk the lives of everyone on the aircraft either because of weather conditions at the airport or along the route of flight or a maintence issue with the aircraft. If passengers really understood the dynamic environment and all the regulations and behind the scene detals that are involved in aviation they would be much more grateful that the industry is a safe as it and amazed that airplanes have no more delays than they do. So next time you are on a flight and get in turrbulance be grateful. There's nothing your pilot can likely do about it. If he could he most certainly would by changing altitude or something to try to avoid it and likely has already changed altitude to get out of worst of it. Plus if if you want to get to your destination your to go through the turrbulance to get there. I am pilot and we go through training to fly the airplane as smoothly as possible to make our passengers as comfortable as possible. We do all we can to avoid turrbulance but sometimes it is just impossible to avoid or to even no it is there. So be happy that you the have the luxury and speed of travel of aviation and that bumpy and scary rides or something you my expeirence sometimes as a result of this privilege.


Richard Hopper July 12, 2018 at 2:16 am

I was on a flight to Saint Lucia from London when We hit an air thermal in 1981 and we suddenly started dropping. The plane went quiet, couldn't hear anything from the engines and we dropped either 3000 feet or meters (I am not certain what the captain stated) but he did say that he would radio through to find out if we got the world record. I will never forget not being able to see the wing tips as they went out of view above the window high above the plane as we reached the bottom of the thermal. No one got hurt or screamed but we're shocked how much the wings bounced up and down when we stoped falling and heard the engine's again. Would love to know if we did get the record


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