In a recent flight from Bengaluru to Pune, mild tremors of turbulence took me back to a time when I was travelling extensively for work. Most of this travel was on small flights in the North-Eastern part of India. I reproduce that note to record my thoughts on something that a frequent flyer would always encounter.
From a note back in 2008 –
“I have been travelling continuously for the last 15 days and most of this travel has been Air Travel. And all the air travel has had one thing in common – Turbulence.
All the sectors that I flew recently had turbulence. Invariably the plane would get into either a cloud or a dust storm and rock and roll the passengers till such time that even non-believers like me thought of a higher force. In a couple of journeys, we felt turbulence when we were flying above the clouds and in a true blue sky.
Around 50% off this travel was in ATRs – a small 37 seater plane with 2 huge fans like propellers on either side. When an ATR starts, the fan on the left side works first. The right one starts working as the plane taxis onto the runway. After a 2 minute halt, which is used to bring the fans to full speed, the ATR makes a dash across the runway and takes off suddenly. As soon as it reaches a certain height, the engines are brought to normal speed – for the faint-hearted or new passengers, it seems as if the engines have been shut down.
I have written earlier about plane journeys. The reason why I write again about them now is that my book of experiences just got richer in the last 3 weeks.
I understand that planes fly at a certain altitude which is given to them by the folks in the control towers. What I don’t understand is why can’t they go back to the control tower and say that there is a lot of clouds here, give me another altitude. While the pilots & crew and the control tower guys might be ok with the bumbling tumbling, I was not & neither were the passengers.
By no means am I a guy who gets scared easily. But the fact that you are a certain thousand feet above sea level, and you can’t see any reasons for the bumbling & tumbling and yet you are bumbling & tumbling makes me think of some questions that need answers. At every instance of turbulence a small “ding!!” sounds and everyone is told to fasten seat belts. Another “Ding!!” accompanied by a small word from the pilot about the impending disturbance and whether it’s normal or not would be nice.
Communication is the key. A week back on the Indigo flight from Guwahati to New Delhi, prior to deplaning, the hostess informed us of the belt at which we would get out luggage. Simple & effective. Yesterday on the IC flight from Ranchi to Delhi, the AC was not working while the plane stood at the Ranchi Airport. As the passengers took their seats, the cry for AC went up. The pilot made an announcement that the Auxiliary unit had gone bad and now the AC would work once the engines came on. As soon as he finished, someone asked the question to the hostess and she curtly replied”Sir an announcement has just been made.”
Back to turbulence. So ATR’s or Airbus, all are hit by turbulence. Yesterday at dinner with family, I shot the topic and realised that everyone has faced turbulence recently. And all agreed that there was too much turbulence. My brother thought that I am scared. But he is neatly mistaken. I am not scared, I just look for answers. If I pay money for a smooth ride, and when the stakes are of life, I expect to be told that we will fly into rough weather & what it could mean.
On a flight to late evening flight to Lucknow last week, the plane was in a clear blue sky and flew into rains and black clouds. The pilot did some circling, the hostesses were asked to return to their seats immediately, and the passengers just bumped and jumped. On landing did the pilot say something about landing from another direction because of the dust storm. What’s the point??? Hardly anyone listened to him.
I have another week or so more to travel. Let’s see what else gets added to the already existing turbulence.”