In general I’m pretty comfortable with flying, though the pre-flight queues and security rituals now sometimes elevate my blood pressure. However, I flew from Vegas to San Jose mid-day yesterday on America West and had one of the more nerve-wracking flights I can remember. About halfway through the flight, we sustained some of the most intense turbulence I’ve experienced, not only violent but also long-lasting. Acute and chronic. I turned on some mellow music on my iPod and practiced some deep-breathing relaxation exercises, both to calm my heart and to fight the nausea (and I am not prone to motion sickness).

After landing and finding myself unusually happy to be in the San Jose Airport Terminal, I overheard other passengers commenting with surprise at the extreme bumpiness of the flight, so I concluded I wasn’t just in a particularly skittish mood for some reason. Perhaps post-traumatic stress from the packed halls of CES?

But why did I feel compelled to blog this? As if the other passengers’ post-flight comments weren’t enough to confirm that the turbulence had been extreme, one other event stood out. A woman sitting several rows in front of me reported shortness of breath and chest-pains following the roller-coaster portion of the flight and had to be given oxygen immediately upon landing. Paramedics were waiting for her with a wheelchair once the plane reached the gate. I later encountered the paramedics elsewhere in the terminal relating to some of their colleagues that the woman was fine but had suffered a severe panic attack as a result of the turbulence.

I sincerely hope this flight goes into my record book as the most turbulent flight I will ever take.