Extreme Turbulence

Over the past several years, I have become quite the frequent flyer, more so than I ever would have thought given the history of my fear of flying. Last year I clocked over 50 flights, and perhaps the fear waned due to the sheer quantity of air travel.

However, during extreme turbulence I can definitely lose it. The worst I ever experienced was on a flight from Tokyo to Hawaii: it was monsoon season and the large plane bobbed up and down and in every direction possible, like a 360-degree roller coaster. With each dip, knock, and bump, passengers would gasp and some would scream. Thank heaven I had had a few vodkas and an Ativan. But nevertheless, panic was about to set in.

The turbulence continued to escalate so that the Texas-accented pilot called for the flight attendants to buckle up and suspend all cabin service. I was seated in a bulkhead seat, and on this airplane the stewardesses had to seek safety on fold-down seats directly in front of me.

Gone were their syrupy smiles, which were replaced with undisguisable expressions of abject fear. One shaken attendant said to the other, “This is not good, not good at all; I’ll bet he’s going to turn around and head back to Tokyo!” The other attendant didn’t say a word, but just reached into her pocket and pulled out a Rosary. Needless to say, I was not very comforted.


Bryan Batt is best known for his role as Salvatore Romano in the AMC series Mad Men. Bryan has recently authored two books, She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother, and Big, Easy Style: Creating Rooms You Love to Live In.

Category: Airplanes

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