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Severe Turbulence Almost Flips Plane Over Mid-Flight

Newsweek 10/27/2022 Anna Skinner
A Boeing 737 Max is pictured in flight. A small plane over Ohio experienced severe turbulence Wednesday. © John Keeble/Getty Images A Boeing 737 Max is pictured in flight. A small plane over Ohio experienced severe turbulence Wednesday.

Airplane passengers were in for a wild ride Wednesday morning when severe turbulence over southwestern Ohio nearly flipped a plane over mid-flight.

National Weather Service (NWS) describes turbulence as one of the most unpredictable weather phenomena, according to its website. The rough, bumpy ride passengers experience is the result of irregular air motion caused by eddies and vertical currents.

On Wednesday, the flight encountered "severe" turbulence, which is the third of four levels of severity. Severe turbulence can cause pilots to momentarily lose control of the aircraft. National Weather Service Aviation Weather Center (NWS AWC) tweeted the information because of the pilot's uncommon report of the weather event.

"We don't see pilot reports like this every day: 'PILOT SAID ALMOST FLIPPED OVER,'" the tweet from NWS AWC said. The tweet also included an image of a map showing where various airplanes, including the one in question, were in the Midwest at the time of the incident.

NWS AWC told Newsweek the flight was a small plane with a private pilot. The flight was near the eastern Indiana border at around 10:45 a.m. ET when it encountered turbulence.

While most cases of turbulence lead to a few annoying bumps for passengers, passengers in the Ohio flight likely experienced something a little more dramatic. NWS describes severe turbulence as causing "occupants of the airplane [to be] forced violently against their seat belts."

Turbulence rarely crashes a plane, even in severe instances. However, planes have suffered structural failure after entering cumulus clouds accompanied by severe turbulence and crashed, according to a HuffPost report, but that tended to happen in the earlier days of flying and not so much in modern times.

The NWS AWC's tweet received approximately 1,000 interactions and several responses, with one Twitter user asking, "What does that even mean?"

"When pilots encounter bad flying conditions, they often send out reports to let other pilots know what to expect," NWS AWC responded. "This pilot reported severe turbulence and added a remark to describe how bad it was. It caught our attention because it was very unusual."

Jonathan Leffler, AWC Chief of Domestic Operations Branch, told Newsweek the airplane experiencing the turbulence was an Aero Commander, which is a very small plane. The plane was flying at 3,000 feet when it encountered turbulence.

"Small aircraft are more susceptible to changes in windspeed versus industry-type aircraft," he said. "They will feel turbulence more when flying than in larger aircraft like a Boeing 737 or even a regional jet."

Leffler said he's not sure what caused the turbulence, as no other pilots reported trouble.

"I think whatever this pilot got into was isolated," he said. "It was behind a cold front and there are some gusty winds in there."

Last week, a plane crashed into a multifamily residence in New Hampshire, killing all onboard and igniting a fire in the residential building. The building was near a local airport, and none of the building's residents were injured. It is not known what caused the plane to crash.

On October 18, a plane crashed into a Buick car dealership in Ohio, killing the pilot and one passenger. The crash remains under investigation.

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