A domestic flight from Reykjavík to Egilsstaðir had to turn around on Tuesday evening after it hit severe turbulence.
The plane took off from the capital at around 18.00 and the flight went as normal until it started its approach to Egilsstaðir, in East Iceland. The plane hit very severe turbulence and had to turn back after hitting a so-called ‘mountain wave’. The plane landed back in Reykjavík at about 20.00.
“It is right that the eastward plane…did not go as planned and ended up unexpectedly in severe turbulence. It was turbulence which was not possible to see in the weather forecasts and came therefore as a surprise,” an Air Iceland spokesman told Austurfréttir.
On the way back the captain explained to the passengers that the plane had hit a stronger mountain wave than expected and that the wind had been blowing at 60 knots, or 30 meters per second.
Many passengers were traumatized by the experience and some were crying and screaming. They were offered counseling the day after. Passenger Ágústa Björk Jósefsdóttir told reporters the flight was the worst she had ever experienced. Other passengers said they thought they would die, and said they were even showered from above by sand thrown up from the carpet, as well as seeing brochures and magazines fly out of their seatback pockets.
The pilots and stewardess were praised for their calmness and professionalism throughout. Nobody was hurt in the incident.