Comment of the Day: Fear of Flying Edition

Illustration for article titled Comment of the Day: Fear of Flying Edition

In today's comments, we delved deep into Gotham City's legal system, shared some tips for cooking chicken (with or without salmonella), and tried to scare each other right out of the friendly skies.

In response to this post, on the awesome power of airplane turbulence, commenter Dake alerts us to the phenomenon (and strength!) of wake turbulence, the unexpectedly powerful turbulent-force generated by the planes themselves:

[Wake turbulence]'s something that we didn't even really know about until the eighties - every once in a while a smaller plane would just suddenly flip over and crash and no one knew why. It was eventually traced to those wingtip vortices caused by the wings forward movement through the air. One plane following another too closely (and with the help of a slight cross wind) could get caught in one of those and being close to the ground already, not have time to recover. Now there is required separation of both time and distance between aircraft to help alleviate those effects, but you'll still feel it from time to time. Generally larger, heavier aircraft are the worst, but there are some, like the 737 which have notoriously terrible wake turbulence for their size.


Image: Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock

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This comment is unfortunately inaccurate.

Wake turbulence was very well known before the eighties. Separation rules existed well before the eighties. However a couple of high profile crashes led to more research and a much better understanding and revised separation rules. The advent of widebody aircraft with much higher weights in the seventies also played a significant part in this development.

Also the plane with the disproportionately strong wake turbulence for its weight is the 757, not the 737.