Levels of Turbulence

When babies in the cabin are silent but adults are screaming, then you know your airplane is going through some serious turbulence.

wingtip over water

This year I’ve been flying around a lot — most of the pictures in this post were taken over various parts of North America — and the text of this post is being written on an overnight flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, a little while after experiencing intense, gut-wrenching air turbulence.

Since I’m not going back to sleep anytime soon, I might as well capture the moment, or rather, series of moments… this one of those scenarios where things got progressively and measurably worse and worse. The following is a reconstruction of what was going through my head at every stage of the progression… Level 1 is just your average “wake up sleeping passengers” variety of turbulence…

wingtip over Saskatchewan -   North Dakota border

Level 1) Ugh..what…I need to sleep… this sucks

night flyover Newark-Manhattan-Brooklyn

Level 2) This really sucks, because I’m totally awake now. How am I going to get into the Sydney timezone and get work done if I don’t sleep?

night flyover Times Square

Level 3) The side-to-side movement of the plane is making the fluid in my stomach and internal organs slosh around, as if someone is stirring a pot inside me.

wingtip grounded by wicked New England Noreaster

Level 4) Dude.

wingtip rainbow chicago burbs

Level 5) I’m noticing that I only have a lap belt, not an over-the-shoulder restraint like the flight attendants do. My body is moving fully separately from the seat underneath me.

approaching Detroit

Level 6) Now reconsidering whether I should go back and start making appeals to a Higher Power… it’s been a while… wait, which form of Higher Power would I be appealing to?  ..and what’s the format and strategy for my appeal?  Thoughts of loved ones.

wingtip Washington, DC night

Level 7) People are screaming. Yup, tihs just got real.

Left Wing Seattle

Level 8) Focus. Doing a quick review of how exactly I’m bracing my arms and legs, getting into a better position. This fancy wearable neck-pillow thing may be useful as protective gear. Mentally rehearsing the full set of safety procedures.

descending over SEA

Level 9) Detaching. Relaxing my mind. These are matters beyond my control. A soothing voice suddenly start singing a familiar tune over and over in my head…

“Plant Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do…”

wingtip near Niue - South Pacific


About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on December 4, 2013, in Life, photography, Psychology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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