Turbulence: What you can't see can hurt you
Did you know?
Atmospheric scientists define turbulence as "a state of fluid flow in which the flow regime exhibits irregular and random fluctuations."
- AC 000-30C - Clear Air Turbulence Avoidance
- FAA Safety Briefing — The Terrible Ts: Turbulence, Thunderstorms, and Tornados (PDF)
There are many different kinds of turbulence and each has its unique properties. Know the difference and know what dangers each kind might present to you.
Read Chapter 11 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge: Weather Theory (PDF)
Some types of turbulence can exist on a clear, blue, cloudless day. These types won't show up on radar and are invisible to the naked eye. Check out the links below to learn more about "clear-air" turbulence.
Knowledge is power. Before you fly consider your abilities and those of your aircraft. Weather briefings, forecasts, and alert apps can provide insight into how likely you are to encounter turbulence on your next flight.
- FAAsafety — Aviation Weather Data: A Targeted Approach
- General Aviation Pilot's Guide to Preflight Weather Planning, Weather Self-Briefings, and Weather Decision Making (PDF)
- AIM: Other Sources of Weather Information
Pilot weather reports (PIREPs) are an excellent way to report and learn about current conditions on or near your route of flight. It is in your best interest to seek them out before you go, listen for them during flight or ask the controller, and learn how to properly submit one if you don't already know how.
Get Involved — explore more resources on weather topics and flight planning
AOPA Online Courses (AOPA registration required)
- Weather Wise: Air Masses and Fronts
- Do The Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots
- Skyspotter: Pireps Made Easy
- A Pilot's Guide to Flight Service
- ASI Flight Risk Evaluator online
AOPA Safety Quizzes (AOPA registration required)
- Spring Weather
- Decoding Weather
- Practical Weather
- Safety Advisor: Weather Wise (PDF)
- Mobile Flight Risk Evaluator