You are enjoying an after-meal drink, comfortable in your seat on the plane when the seat belt sign goes on, and immediately the aircraft starts to rock and hits a few bumps.
What you experienced is something called turbulence. According to Weather.gov, turbulence is an irregular motion of the air resulting from eddies and vertical currents.
Private pilot and tech entrepreneur, Stefan Drury, shared his insight on the topic in a YouTube video titled “What is turbulence? Pilot explains all”.
“Turbulence sucks,” he says. “As pilots, we actively try to avoid turbulence. I mean, it’s a really inefficient way to fly, it’s uncomfortable, and in some instances, it can be a serious jeopardy to the safety of the aircraft.”
He described the four types of turbulence, namely thermal turbulence, mechanical turbulence, jet stream and other aircraft turbulence. Drury encourages flyers not to be nervous about turbulence.
“Pilots will do whatever they can to actively avoid flying through areas of turbulence. Modern aircraft have sophisticated equipment on board to be able to see these areas up ahead of them.
“Pilots will divert or climb above them,” says Drury.
He does have one tip for travellers: always keep on your seatbelt. The pilot says: “Whenever you seated on an aircraft, even if it is the clear blue day out there and there isn’t a breath of wind, always keep your seatbelt fastened.
"There is a reason why the crew and often the captain will tell you that over the PA system. Some turbulence cannot be seen by an aircraft and sometimes before you know it, it's too late and you already in it.”