ARINC: 129.725

What Is Turbulence?

21 October 2019   Learn to Fly

Turbulence is a fairly regular occurrence on most flights and one that commercial and private pilots at Monmouth Executive flight school in NJ learn to handle safely and professionally. Here’s some insight not only into this phenomenon but also why it’s no cause for concern.

The air an aircraft travels through is filled with currents moving in different directions, much like in the ocean. When an airplane encounters a strong current, it will push and pull on the body and wings, while the pilot keeps a steady course. This causes the juddering and shaking that we feel inside the airplane. While commercial and private jets fly much higher where the air is calmer, these currents can be unavoidable. You’ll likely feel them more in smaller aircraft that fly at lower levels, however.

Causes of Turbulence 

    • Wind
      Wind, when it occurs near ground level, is subject to friction as it flows around the landscape. This means that wind is straighter and steadier high above the earth, but varies a lot in terms of direction and speed at ground level. This causes more turbulence at lower levels when flying closer to the ground.
    • Thermals
      Thermals are columns of air that rise as they are heated by the ground and sink as they cool down. Moving from a warm thermal to a cool column of air means that air is firstly pressing the aircraft up, then pulling it down slightly, causing turbulence.
    • Wake
      Much like a boat passing through water, a large airliner passing through the air makes waves push out behind it. These waves of air are pretty powerful and can be felt for a significant amount of time after the aircraft has passed. For this reason, there are big gaps between aircraft landing and taking off, as well as between passing aircraft, especially if a large aircraft is involved.

Detecting Turbulence

In airliners and private jets, onboard radar can detect large amounts of turbulence that the pilot can then prepare for, either by putting on the seatbelt sign or adjusting the flight path, if possible. If you do feel some turbulence while traveling, it is likely that you are flying right on the edge of the turbulence. Often, storms are simply too big for commercial airliners to completely avoid, which can mean a rough journey or a delay. A private jet is smaller and more flexible, so they can usually avoid storms with ease.

Learn to Fly and Operate an Aircraft Safely at Our Flight School in NJ

Now is the perfect time to learn more about flying, maintaining and operating an aircraft, and Monmouth Executive Airport’s flight school in New Jersey will help you get there. A safe, stress-free airport with uncrowded airspace and the longest private runway in the country, our airport offers you an opportunity to really relax and experience the joy of flight with expertly-guided flying lessons – a unique experience for flight schools in NJ.

For more information about flying lessons in NJ and how to learn to fly, please visit our website at

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