Tremors in the Sky: Sudden Turbulence

Turbulence is a lurking threat to passengers and flight attendants on flights.

ByABC News
November 10, 2009, 5:17 AM

March 17, 2010 — -- "I can still remember how scary that turbulence was," the veteran flight attendant said about a disturbing experience early on in her long career with American Airlines.

She and other cabin crew members were stowing food and beverage carts as the plane began to buck. Then what happened? "I hit my head on a shelf and got knocked unconscious."

This flight attendant, who still flies for American, doesn't want her real name used, so we'll just call her "Jane Doe." She does, however, want it known that her main concern is always the safety of her passengers. Especially in times of turbulence.

Buckle up, Jane said. Get in the habit of buckling up anytime you're in your seat, even when there is no turbulence. And it should go without saying to buckle up any time the seat belt sign lights up -- even if you feel nothing.

That's because turbulence can occur with no warning; and as Jane tells her passengers: "You don't want to end up on the ceiling like pancake batter, do you?"

For more air travel news and insights visit Rick's blog at:

What exactly is turbulence? The Federal Aviation Administration describes it this way:

"Turbulence is air movement that normally cannot be seen and often occurs unexpectedly," according to the FAA. "It can be created by many different conditions, including atmospheric pressure, jet streams, air around mountains, cold or warm weather fronts or thunderstorms."

You know the expression, "It came out of the clear blue sky?" Well, turbulence can be like that; it can occur even when the sky looks clear and calm.

Stay Up to Date on the Latest Travel Trends from ABC News on Twitter