Severe turbulence that hit this Middle Eastern airliner scraped skin off a passenger's face.
So, for the past week I've been on a humanitarian mission to South America, where I fed starving mosquitoes and gave much-needed comic relief to Ecuadorians by sporting a painful, V-neck-shaped sunburn. (Despite the nights being cold enough to churn ice cream.) And on the flight out of the country, this gringo got to experience a rare local treat: The heart-stopping turbulence fouling the skies above the Mariscal Sucre International Airport.
It felt like being a penny in a clothes drier. The turbulence grabbed our plane and jerked it around like a hyperactive toddler playing war with his jet toy. There were times where my stomach took an out-of-body experience and lounged somewhere in the seats across the aisle.
Apparently, this turbulence is not uncommon in Quito, what with the way the surrounding hills and mountains (and volcanoes) disturb the regional flow of air. Take a look at this video of a pilot trying to break through the aerial whirlpool. It was a little worse than that, though. To give you a taste, albeit a harsher one, of what us AA passengers experienced, I've dug up this footage of the aftermath of a bad bout of turbulence on a Middle Eastern airline. Yes, that man's face has been partially scraped off, perhaps by falling luggage. And is that a seat-back tray that somehow wandered into the cockpit?
Anyway, Quito: Lovely place to visit, heck of a place to leave.