Relax! Here’s Why an Aviation Expert Says You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Turbulence

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It’s ‘Hot Crime Summer’ week on The Megyn Kelly Show, and the series is wrapping up with a closer look at what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (a.k.a. MH370). The disappearance of the Boeing 777 that was flying 227 passengers and 12 crew members from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014 captured the attention of the world and remains one of the biggest aviation mysteries in history. 

On Friday’s show, Megyn was joined by pilot, journalist, and aviation expert William Langewiesche to take a deeper dive into what likely happened to the plane, including how Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah got his co-pilot out the cockpit and depressurized the aircraft. While the tragedy is enough to make any nervous flier think twice about traveling the friendly skies, Langewiesche explained why air travel is safe and turbulence is nothing to be afraid of.

Why Modern Air Travel Is So Safe

Megyn confessed that she has a fear of flying. “I’m not the strongest or the most secure person when I’m up there,” she admitted. But her concerns, Langewiesche said, are for naught. “It’s often said… that airplanes and airline travel is very, very safe, and that is correct,” he explained. “Statistically, this cannot be denied, so being afraid of flying on the airlines is kind of like being afraid of crossing the road.”

The safety can be traced back to the advent of the jet plane in the 1960, Langewiesche shared. Since that time, “the job [of the pilot] got more and more boring and more and more safe,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to fly one of these airplanes.” Through engineering, teamwork, and training, he maintained that the “system” of air travel is so well-monitored that “it turns out to be very, very safe.”

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Turbulence

Despite the safety statistics overwhelmingly backing Langewiesche and the airlines up, he knows that there is still one aerial phenomenon that freaks passengers out. “The thing that seems to scare people the most from my observation and casual conversation is turbulence,” he said. “I know that dominates – in a terrible way – the lives of airline pilots.”

As Langewiesche explained, pilots are forced to “tiptoe around the passengers’ fear of turbulence” because “you get a few little bumps that would not even be worth thinking about as a pilot and people are writing letters to their senator and congressman and think they are dying.” The bottom line: “The airplanes can handle a whole lot more turbulence than the passengers can,” he emphasized. “There’s no problem with turbulence.”

In case you need further convincing, Langewiesche shared that he “hunted” severe weather in the United States as a pilot for several years, which meant he was flying straight into some of the roughest turbulence you can imagine. “We were flying into conditions that no [commercial] airliner goes into ever,” he recalled. “We would fly into turbulence so strong you couldn’t see the instrument panels because it’s shaking so hard and the design of the seatbelt would bruise your thighs.”

While Langewiesche may have emerged from those missions looking like he had just been in a prize fight, the aircraft was none the worse for the wear. “You come away from it physically bruised, but the airplane didn’t care – it was fine,” he said. “The airplanes are extraordinarily strong… don’t be afraid of turbulence.”

Megyn, for one, found herself persuaded. “That was a soothing balm,” she concluded. “I’m going to be thinking about that story about going into the bad weather and that the plane can take a lot more than we allow it to.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Langewiesche by tuning in to episode 574 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.