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View Diary: Thunderstorms! (110 comments)

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  •  Yes and no (8+ / 0-)

    The T-38 could go up to 45,000 (I did it once) so you had a good chance of topping the weather. It was stressed for +6.7/-2 G's if I recall. So turbulence would scare you but it probably couldn't hurt the airframe. It also had a very high wing loading so it wasn't as susceptible to turbulence.

    Despite all that I did once accidentally penetrate a cell in a T-38 (it had no radar back then) and it kicked the snot out of me. It was shaking so bad I couldn't read the instruments. Fortunately I only caught the edge of it so I was out of it in a few seconds.

    Airliners are stressed for +2/-0 G's so you do have to worry about structural damage. There is a "turbulence penetration speed" that's usually somewhere around 280 Knots Indicated or .78 mach. That puts you slow enough that a gust won't overstress the airframe but not so slow that a gust could cause you to stall.

    A heavier plane will generally ride it out better than a light airplane. The same turbulence that would flip a Cessna on its back will barely budge a 747.

    Finally the wing makes a difference. The A300 had a very stiff wing so it just beat the crap out of you even in light chop. The 757 has a lot more flex and rides better.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:14:26 AM PDT

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