How Can Turbulence Flip a Plane?
Can Turbulence Flip a Plane? Is it true that the turbulence of the air can flip a plane? What is meant by this question? Are we to believe that when the air moves from side to side it can actually create a “vortex” in the air which can cause an aircraft to become airborne.
Let’s first look at what happens when we observe turbulence. When we observe a rapidly moving object moving at a high rate of speed, we see that it is buffeted (we might call it “swerved”) in the vertical. We often refer to this as “vertical acceleration.” We feel that as the object continues to move vertically, with increasing speed, it will continue to move in a straight line, with no sense of “interference.” We might liken this to a skier who continues to turn as he runs faster but without getting “sideways” in the process.
In physics this is what happens. As the speed of the airflow increases, air molecules start to collide with the air molecules on either side of the airplane. If this collision goes unnoticed, the result can be damage to the shape of the plane. Airplane surfaces may become bent, bulges may appear or may completely lift off.
Now let’s examine how this works in a smaller space. If we have a small ball, say a coin, rolling down a hill. If we put that coin in a box and bring it back up, it will travel in a circle. If we allow the air around the coin to slow slightly as it spirals down the hill, we can see a vortex form as the air near the surface of the coin flows past it.
If the speed of the airflow is slow enough, the air near the surface will not be able to slow down fast enough to escape the way. So the coin will stay put and not move. This is called viscosity and is caused by oil, wax, and other materials that might form a sheath on the surface of the coin. The air flowing past will not be able to slow down fast enough to escape the way, and will stay close to the surface.
This is the reason why turbulence flip can only happen if the airspeed is slower than the airspeed at which the air is traveling. Think about that for a second. If the airspeed is high enough, you would never have a vortex and the air would not be able to go through. It would stick to the top of the hill and would continue to go up. But if the airspeed is low enough, there would be no way for the air to get to the top, and the air would just start to tumble down. So, by applying pressure to the air just below the clouds, we can create turbulence and cause it to move away from the area where we want it to go.
We can use this to our advantage and use it to our downfall as well. If we want to make the air faster, we can cause it to adhere to the top of the clouds, which would cause the airspeed to be much faster than normal. But, because this is happening below the cloud, it will have nowhere to go and will fall downward. This can cause severe weather, winds, and even tornadoes in areas where they normally wouldn’t. This is the main reason why a good pilot is always trying to control the airspeed and the way it moves, as this can mean the difference between life and death!
You can learn more about controlling turbulence by doing a search online. There are many free online tutorials that you can find. This will help you get a good idea of how to solve your own problem, so don’t think you have to rely on someone else’s instructions. If you are looking to fly a commercial airplane, then getting some good turbulence training is highly recommended before you try to fly. It may not be as simple as flipping a few switch settings, but you will find out soon enough why that might not be the best way to get you from point A to B.