Bump and Grind
We're climbing through FL180 after our early morning departure from Bozeman when the turbulence begins.
It's just some constant rhythmic jiggles at first, but there's a few more earnest bumps thrown in for good measure. I call the flight attendants. "Hey, ATC told us we're gonna have some turbulence at our cruising altitude, you might want to stay seated until we get a better idea."
No sooner do I switch off the interphone than the turbulence starts for real. Bam Bam Bam! Three quick raps, followed by the some wallowing from side to side. Bam Bam BOOM! I'm thrown upward into the seatbelt; I grab onto the glareshield with my left hand. We're climbing through FL210 right now; I look at the captain and he says "Yeah, let's go back down to FL200." I key the mic and request FL200; ATC quickly agrees.
I reach for the altitude alerter and twist it down to 20,000 feet. BAM! Whoops, 19,700. I reach for it again. Boom! Again, the turbulence makes me spin the alerter past my target, to 20,300. Okay, let's just... BOOM! Argh! 18,900! Now I'm just getting mad. After several more turbulence-hampered tries, I get the darn thing to 20,000, and start to push the ALT SEL (altitude select) button on the autopilot panel. Bam! My hand slips and I push the VNAV button instead. Grrr....
I'm starting to realize that push-button airplanes just aren't designed with moderate turbulence in mind.