Severe Turbulence

eg: stopmotion, new-york, street
David and I flew from Santa Maria to Taft over California high desert area. We were badly pounded by the very active thermals for almost 2 hours. It felt worse than it looks on the camera and that we were gaining /losing 1000 feet fairly rapidly. However, these trikes can take quite a beating and at no time did they feel out of control.

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60 Comments

  • B  Alvarius
    by B Alvarius 6 years ago
    Nice job demonstrating turbulence. It is difficult to demonstrate the severity of turbulence with a camera securely fixed to the wing, the relative motion is not as great as an aircraft to aircraft shot. I also note some interesting erosional features (1:47) on the desert below the aircraft which would make some interesting photographs.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Hi B Alvarius, you are very right, my vertical speed gauge was moving crazy, our trike moved up down so much. The geographic features you mention is San Andreas Fault, biggest active fault in California, caused San Fransisco earthquake in 1906.
  • B  Alvarius
    by B Alvarius 6 years ago
    You can always get the second unit director to go back and do pick up shots of the vertical speed indicator jumping wildly around and cut them in to your footage increasing the suspense.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    That's a great idea B, unfortunately the gauge I was talking is the digital meter on my GPS. I might import the log file from GPS to Google Earth, so that I can show the vertical flight pass in 3D.
  • Eric Elbourne
    by Eric Elbourne 6 years ago
    Cool clip Henry, that must have been fun, like B said some nice looking scenery below in that one....
  • Brian Reynolds
    by Brian Reynolds 6 years ago
    Very good video. It was nice to see you kept a fairly high AGL. Smart move. My trike buddy gets airsick sometimes. He would vomit just watching this one.
  • Vince  Morson
    by Vince Morson 6 years ago
    Rock n Roll- ya I know that one- never looks as bad as it feels. How was it for landing Henry? Hey did you text me a picture of your Ixess wing the other day? Vince
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Thanks Eric and Brian,
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Hi Vince, we gave up landing at Taft and went back to Santa Maria.
  • Mark Rubenstein
    by Mark Rubenstein 6 years ago
    wow, for me at 1:41 that nearly sent my low time ass into a frenzy. Better you than me. (at least for now) Great job of flying though! Nice video. 8^)
  • Lee Schmitt
    by Lee Schmitt 6 years ago
    yep that is what turbulence looks like when i fly my Tanarg with its iXess 15 wing, but when i fly the Revo with the 11 meter wing there is practically NO turbulence. its amazing! i now appreciate the smoother ride as much or more than the faster speeds. does the Bionix wing feel the turbulence about the same as the iXess 15? (or less, or more?)
  • Lee Schmitt
    by Lee Schmitt 6 years ago
    i just read my post and knowing how some comments get interpreted, i just want to point out that i am not Abid and i am not trying to insult my nor anyone's Ixess 15 wing! :)
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 6 years ago
    Wow...well at the end of the day, it just makes you a better pilot and further increases the ability in your flying skills.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Hi Mark,

    Yeah, that one was pretty bad, the control bar was almost out of my hands and trike pushed side way almost 45 degree.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Hi Lee, those thermals were very strong as a few places around there were known as the good hang glider sites. I remembered that strongest updraft in this flight was more that 1,500 FPM. Have you flown such a thermal with your 11 meter wing ? And still you don't feel any thermals ?
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 6 years ago
    Would these kind of thermals be ideal for hang glider pilots?
  • Brian Reynolds
    by Brian Reynolds 6 years ago
    Dumb question what is,what looks like a single strap, coming off your left shoulder? Is is a shoulder harness? I only noticed a single strap.
    No offence taken Lee, I fly an Ixess wing and I have the crap beaten out of me in thermals. I affectionately call big thermals "sweaty croch time"
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Hi Brian, yes, it is a shoulder harness. Airborne also uses similar type, like used in a car.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Rizzy, I don't know, I never did hang glide.
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    That is a local hang gliding site called Plowshares we went through. We catch a convergence wave there (where the coastal onshore flow meets the valley hot air) along with strong thermal. Flights have been made from there up into Bishop (over 100 miles away) in the Owens Valley/Sierras. I've flown my hang glider a lot there as well as the Owens/ Sierras and Florida (and humid Mexico with Ole, etc)-- with the more humid air on the East coast the thermals are fatter, less sharp, softer, easier to catch, usually associated with a cloud you can see (as opposed to the blue dry thermals of the desert) and climbs less in the East with ceilings usually around 2-4K, as opposed to over 18K in the high desert. Since you can see the clouds usually in the humid East, it's easier to either avoid or catch thermals there (depending on your interest). Magic? Not really. Smaller wings have their plusses and minuses. there are smaller wings available for the AirCreation line too, I would not want one for what we're doing, and NO WAY for what we're planning next!

    It wasn't all that fun of a flight that day with Henry (not that flying with Henry isn't fun), but trike flying is different than hang gliding- the goals are vastly different. For me it seemed a moderately turbulent day, not scary, but got your attention and just went on and on and on. This day did not have hard edges that snapped the trike against the jesus bolt- though I guess Henry found a couple. The Tanargs did fine, we could have easily turned around, but we just pressed on to our goal and came right back through it again.
    When I landed at Santa Maria I got off on the first taxi way- the one you taxi to on the approach side of "the numbers"- the tower was cracking up, it was pretty funny. Henry got it on video, but I look like a spec- I hope he can blow it up and post.
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    I wouldn't call that severe. Its moderate turbulence but it seems to be rather continuous and annoying. That wing in the video is not IXcess 15. Its the Bionix. You can see the twist controlling kevlar strap sewn on the top surface
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    Wow, good eye Abid!! Hey, can you tell us more about that "Cloud Suck" incident you got into, that must've been one heck of a thermal.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Hi Abid, it was still "severe" on my personal scale in my "ONLY" 260 hours flight hours. Do you have any video you captured on "severe" turbulence in your 3200 flight hours ?
  • monty stone
    by monty stone 6 years ago
    Turd-ulence-envy ??????????
  • Lee Schmitt
    by Lee Schmitt 6 years ago
    hi henry, no i don't think i have flown in any good thermal weather.
    when i was inquiring about the 11 meter wing prior to purchase, people on this site told me a smaller wing would be less susceptible to turbulence... and they were right.
    also i know what you mean about "severe turbulence" but to Abid's point, doesn't the AIM define severe turbulence as involving momentary loss of control?
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    Define "momentary loss of control!" Wing moves involuntarily 45deg bank, but then you recover? It's all perception. Let Henry have his perception. At least one wasn't there and is commenting based on a video (which makes it look less than it was) and appears as usual to have an agenda for his responses. (Not Lee I think?)

    Henry's hours are almost all solo front seat including long spectacular multi-state cross-countries (which by the way, the commenter never mentioned or congratulated). Others have hours which are mostly back seat in the pattern at home with someone else flying, and a limited (at best) understanding of thermals (at least from a hang glider's perspective- hang gliders are intimately familiar with each thermal they hunt down and spend 5 - 15 minutes in). Using soaring terms like "cloud suck" requires some knowledge of what you're actually talking about.

    I heard a funny story recently- when someone was out fixing their broken design at Lodi, he was afraid to land on the "narrow" runway. ;) that was the same runway, Henry, and all other students learned to solo on. (You can see us landing there in a couple videos- e.g., California Adventure)
  • Lee Schmitt
    by Lee Schmitt 6 years ago
    still everyone gets your point. this is not an educational video to accompany the AIM but an interesting video of "severe" trike turbulence... well maybe "almost" everyone gets your point :)
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Hi Lee, as I said "on my personal scale" it doesn't related to AIM at all. I don't think the entire duration in this movie is "severe turbulence", but please look closer at 1:42, the wing itself was blown almost 30 degree from the horizontal line behind, additionally the trike banked 20 degree to the same side. So I was in 50 degree bank in a very short time, well less than a second. I had similar or worse shakes several times in the same flight. Can I say that is "out of control" ?
    It looks much less shaky from the wing camera. I wish I had working camera on the main mast of the trike. (the camera was not working due to battery problem.)
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    Hi Henry,
    Yes I can understand your point about your personal scale. The turbulence itself in the video isn't bad but what is making it severe for you is that it is almost continuous. I bet you if it had good amounts of breaks in it, you'd perceive it as less turbulent. Your experience in trashy conditions and your ability to relax more in those conditions as you get a bit more used to them will make your perception better. Its however never fun regardless of hours.

    I am not a big video or camera guy Henry so I have really not captured videos of my flights. What this turbulence looked like is roughly equivalent to when we get cold fronts coming through. It pretty much does the same effect. However, in cold fronts the edges of the turbulence are sharper and more sudden. You kind of had that in this video once towards the end when your wing banked suddenly.
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    Oh its David O taking potshots again. Oh Hi David. Let me see are you afraid of calling me by name? Don't worry I won't bite. But you also called this turbulence moderate if I read right.
    I was the one at Lodi 2 years ago fixing a Delta Jet. More like upgrading its wiring to how we do it now and no I wasn't afraid of landing anywhere (give me a freaking break). And BTW, when the engine problems occur on a trike (Sprag Clutch gone bad), that isn't our design, its called call 1-800-LA-ROTAX. I was only afraid of landing on the runway, parachuters were actively using with the jump plane going up and down. Yes I have no interest in coming down in the trike with a body bag (parachuter) stuck on top of my wing. You can call it me being afraid, I call it having common sense. There is another runway away from the parachuters and its clear of any parachuting activity at the time. I would gladly use that even if that one had a crosswind.
    Oh and if training students is so easy, go right ahead and become a CFI. Let me see your raisins shrivel to minute size after they put the fear of God in you. In this I can assure you you haven't gotten a clue of what you are talking about except you want to insult as usual.

    For your information, I have done plenty of cross-country flights. 2 times 2400 mile round trip jaunts from Florida to Oshkosh and back. The first time without any other trikes or ground support and covered 700 NM in one day. I shouldn't have to tell you that when you fly that much in July in the southeast, you are going to experience thunderstorms and darn good and strong convection. You can't avoid those clouds in the southeast. They are everywhere at mid day and their tops are developing and they are developing in thunderstorms right in front of your eyes.

    Here is where you can read more about Cloud Suck since you so really want to know what that is. I thought the term was used highly by hangies.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_suck
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    Oh, so that was YOU they were talking about at Lodi Abid, thanks for clarifying.
    You've atacked so many times it's hard to know.
    What did they say in "Top Gun"- "Never Leave Your Wingman!" ... Henry is my wingman!

    We all know you don't like positive spin on posts with Bionix or Tanarg in them, but please learn to deal with it!
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    What the hell man. You are such a little peeve buddy. I said nothing except identify the wing. Your paranoia follows your little mind everywhere you go.
    May be you should say something to Lee because he wrote down what differences he thought were there in turbulence handling not me. I didn't knock anything but to you that doesn't matter. You are too short for that
  • Flying  Frog
    by Flying Frog 6 years ago
    No need to be rude to people, Abid. If you can't be civil then don't touch the keyboard.
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    I am being rude. Did you see who started it. I simply identified that this video is Tanarg with a Bionix because some people were thinking it was an IXcess 15. If you expect me to take garbage, you'd be sorely wrong.
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    You need a dictionary Abid
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    From a purely technical definition perspective, this is how generally they would classify different turbulence

    Light turbulence - briefly causes slight, erratic changes in altitude and/or attitude.

    Light chop - slight, rapid and somewhat rhythmic bumpiness without noticeable changes in altitude or attitude.

    Moderate turbulence - similar to light turbulence, but greater intensity. Changes in altitude/attitude occur. Aircraft remains in control at all times. Variations in indicated air speed.

    Moderate chop - similar to light chop, but greater intensity. Rapid bumps or jolts without obvious changes in altitude or attitude.

    Severe turbulence - large, abrupt changes in altitude/attitude. Large variation in indicated airspeed. Aircraft may be temporarily out of control.

    Extreme turbulence - aircraft is violently tossed about and is impossible to control. May cause structural damage.

    The reactions inside aircraft vary from occupants feeling slight strain against their seat belts and unsecured items being slightly displaced, through to occupants being forced violently against seat-belts, and unsecured items being being tossed about. (Imagine what it would be like if you were not wearing a seat belt!)
  • Flying  Frog
    by Flying Frog 6 years ago
    Was there any insult in my post? I think you need to calm down.
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    Thank you Abid, that last post was a good informational post. thank you.
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    No not this time in your post. But certainly the person you should be telling to calm down is David O. He should also try and get over it. You should be first talking to him not me or you are simply playing a little game and you are welcome to keep playing it. Good bye.
  • Flying  Frog
    by Flying Frog 6 years ago
    Good night Abid, sleep well.
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    Looking at the definitions Abid posted, I would say it wasn't actually moderate turbulence afterall, and Henry was right all along!! By the definition above, it fits better with "Severe Turbulence" (though that is not what I initially called it). I was using a poor, seat of the pants, definition. Thanks Abid for the improved one.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    WOW, that was "Severe Turbulent" in my post.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Thank you Abid, the definitions are great, so I would say my turbulent was between "Moderate" and "Choppy" ?
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    Chop is a different type of turbulence- I liken it to a stone skipping on water. When a faster aircraft hits regular bumps (kinda like a washboard dirt road) you get a rhythmic "chop." It wasn't choppy that day (moderate or severe). It was definitely turbulent, and as you posted in your initial description, we were losing / gaining lots of altitude, that and the significant unwanted bank changes make the "Severe Turbulence" definition fit better from what I experienced while actually there with you.

    (Oh and I have done training, many types, and often in much much much higher stakes conditions. My raisens would only shrink to huge size ;)
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    Hi Henry, Yes you had good positive control of aircraft it seemed at all times. Severe turbulence would require temporary loss of control but you were able to control and correct for all the attitude changes. I wouldn't fly knowingly in severe turbulence. Many times you will get warnings of severe turbulence as a SIGMET from the briefer. Sometimes by a PIREP. In summer, in the southeast there are generally 2 SIGMETs per month, convective in nature. Got to be careful around those times. Not fun. You handled this chop very nicely btw
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Hi Adid,

    OK, so what made you to decide to fly in such a condition to Oshkosh ? Was it more appropriate to land and wait until such condition goes way ? I want to expand my personal flying envelop slowly, but I don't want to go into the situation danger my life.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    David, I remember that we didn't have any negative advise from the briefer. Although I know there is no airports with METER and very few airplanes flying that area.
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    Hi Henry,
    No I think you are mis-understanding. I am not an idiot. I did not ever knowingly fly under a SIGMET to Oshkosh or in France or anything like that. I have a 6 year old son, a beautiful wife and many friends and family. I won't be putting my life in danger doing something like that. At least not knowingly. I don't have to prove that mine is bigger to anyone.

    But the conditions you encountered would not be covered under a SIGMET and although they may seem severe to you in a trike, they are at best moderate. You can control the aircraft and land at destination if necessary.

    I have certainly flown through these types of conditions (fronts) or convective turbulence that's pretty wide spread and heavy but not enough for a SIGMET. You have to in long cross countries. Otherwise you'd be stuck. If I had to make it to Osh in 2 days, that means covering about 600 NM each day at the least so you can't sit and wait
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    By the definition you posted of severe turbulence, it states "may be temporarily out of control."
    Thus by definition then, loss of control is not a requirement to define Severe. The ability to land is no where mentioned! (Where did that come from?!)

    So purposefully contradicting that comes across as having a bent towards down grading Henry's experience and/or trike/wing?

    Just saying ...
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    David, Its ok to have a different interpretation than me or anyone else but its not ok to have a conspiracy theory. So your "just saying" sounds quite coocoo. I can't help that. There are professionals in the medical setting for that type of help.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 6 years ago
    Whatever the turbulence "level" was, Henry seemed to do a great job keeping his wrists relaxed, his body square with the carriage, and small corrections. Remember just because you get tossed 50 degrees in a half of a second, doesn't mean you need to put it back to level in the same time period. Because he allowed his trike to dance he was able to dance with it and continue his flight for as long as he needed to fly in the turbulence.

    A technique I often use is to try and make all of my corrections whether they are large or very small, last 4 seconds. If you only spend a second or two making a correction, try moving the control bar half as far for twice as long and see how you like the results.
  • Captain X
    by Captain X 6 years ago
    Thanks Larry,
    I'll try the 4 second thing. (was there a technical reason for choosing 4 instead of 3 or 5 seconds)
    David
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 6 years ago
    Not to sound funny, but 3 seconds is too fast and 5 is too slow. Keep in mind the correction should be very exponential, meaning 75% of the total correction happens in the first second or two and the very last half of a second is such minimal force, a passenger cannot tell when you let up on the control bar. Similar to coming to a stop in a car and releasing the brake as the car comes to a complete stop so the passengers don't fall back in their seats.

    Seriously. It amazes pilots flying front seat, and I mean even high time pilots in some cases, that think they are doing a good job flying in the bumps, when I come on the controls and the bumps seem to vanish like magic. This is 50% of my trick.

    The other big trick is to start flying the pitch of the trike. So many pilots allow the nose of the carriage to go up and down as it pleases. By using quick tugs (exactly the opposite recomenedation for roll) to keep the nose of the carriage from rising in the thermals and gust, the roll becomes infinitely more manageable.

    These two components combined can make a world of difference.

    Another HUGE trick is to never attempt to level the wing completely while a thermal is still tugging at your wing. Always allow the thermal to vanish before finishing your correction or it is nearly impossible to not go too far and over correct.

    And one last trick is to only correct for what the compression strut shows as a bank. Fight the urge to respond to the control bars forces. Instead no response other than dampening the control bar movement and watching the compression strut for your next command which should take.....

    4 seconds :-)

    Most good pilots practice these methods already without being aware they are even doing such. But becoming aware of WHAT we do, and WHY and WHEN, generally can improve our control more so than just "doing it from experience"

    In any case I find most pilots should move the bar half as much for twice as long when flying, and the benefits seem to be quite instant. In turbulence it really pays off.
  • Henry Trikelife
    by Henry Trikelife 6 years ago
    Thanks so much Larry. I should practice the points you recommend in future turbulent flights.
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 6 years ago
    Awesome points Larry....So my question is when you are getting thrown around a lot in severe turbulence, does that hurt your hang bolt (Jesus Bolt) and after a turbulent flight what should you look for in your next preflight.
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 6 years ago
    One thing Larry mentioned is to "Fight the urge to respond to the control bars forces"...this is one area where I struggle...I am a 92 hour pilot and I have been told before what Larry said...I guess this is one area where you get better with time only.
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    Rizwan if you ever do or see a static load simulation of a grade 5 (similar to AN material spec) or metric class 8.8 bolt (3/8" or 10 mm in diameter), just in double shear (that's not even considering the fact that the bolt has a full length bushing surface distributing the load) you will see it won't have permanent damage till 20 G's. This is a highly conservative analysis because of course the bolt is not just in double shear, it has a mast tube wide bushing distributing the load on it.

    I won't have to go into what a 1/2" AN-8 bolt would be able to hold.

    Just remember your hangblock in most cases (save Cosmos whose hangblock was actually steel) is Aluminum and your hangbolt is steel. When these two fight, steel always wins. So its more likely that your hangblock's U-channel or plates are deformed or hole ovaled out over time than your bolt giving up.

    Most manufacturers require that you change your hangbolt every X number of hours. This is done just as cheap insurance. I would suggest checking your hangblock U channel or plates as well. the biggest problem with bolts is their quality. There are counterfeit AN bolts out there and if they have not been properly Hydrogen de-embrittled after zinc or cadmium plating, they can snap like a twig. Generally speaking as a rule of thumb if Aluminum used is strong enough or thick enough to have a safety factor of 2 instead of 1.5 (normal) then in aviation it is accepted to consider that Aluminum part to not have a determined fatigue life (no cycle limit).
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 6 years ago
    Thanks Abid, I just changed my Jesus bolt when I got my new Wizard wing, bought a brand new Hangbolt from Airborne directly :)
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 6 years ago
    Riz, next time get your AN6-36 hangbolt from Aircraft Spruce
    http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/hapages/an6.php

    for $2.50

    Also get yourself one of these
    http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/hapages/boltgauges.php

    Then you won't have to guess at all what size AN bolt you need to order. All Airborne did in selling you that bolt is order the bolt from AirFasco (AFC) in Ohio and send it back to you at a good profit. AN bolts are made in the US -only- as best as I know. AirFasco (AFC) is a very common popular company to make AN bolts and nuts located in Ohio.
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 6 years ago
    Thanks Abid, that helps.
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