When it comes to travel, it doesn’t get any faster than flying. However, if you’re one of the nearly 1 in 3 people in the United States who is afraid of flying, it can be a real trial on your nerves.

While plane crashes are exceptionally rare, they do happen. So, for a nervous flier, even boarding a plane can conjure up images of the worst case scenario imaginable.

When this plane in Russia faced horrific weather conditions, even the bravest passengers on board were terrified. When you see what this pilot had to navigate, you’ll completely understand why.

Recently, passengers on an aircraft attempting a landing in Sochi, Russia saw their lives flash before their eyes as their pilot narrowly evaded powerful water spouts. Each one could have pulled the plane down toward the depths of the Black Sea.

Reports of tornado-like water spouts on the Southwest coast of their destination began popping up after take off. This phenomenon made landing at the Sochi airport all but impossible, and they are extremely dangerous.

Water spouts like these are formed when vortex clouds take shape over the water itself, causing a pressure system to build that leads to their hallmark tubular shape. While they are not usually as powerful as tornadoes, they can be just as dangerous, especially to aircrafts… 

Obviously, it takes an experienced pilot to navigate in these kind of extreme weather conditions. While planes are equipped with radar technology to help chart out different storm systems, it’s still up to the pilot to guide the plane to safety. 

Sochi, one of Russia’s premiere resort towns during the summer months, is typically full of beachgoers this time of year. However, as this plane made its tricky descent, the shores were virtually abandoned due to the storm.

From the ground, the sight of the pilot deftly guiding the plane around the dangerous spouts was a gripping and terrible thing to behold. Just imagine what it was like for the people inside of the plane itself! They could actually see the spouts from their windows and they were probably praying to make it to the ground safely.

Thankfully, while the ordeal was extremely perilous, everyone on board survived and the plane, though diverted to nearby Anapa Airport, was able to make a safe landing. That said, the turbulence onboard the plane itself was violent enough that it could have caused serious injuries.

Still, while frightening, it’s unlikely that turbulence will bring down a plane. According to the website Cockpit Confidential, “A plane cannot be flipped upside-down, thrown into a tailspin, or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket. Conditions might be annoying and uncomfortable, but the plane is not going to crash.”

According to most pilots, situations like this one cause more annoyance than fear, despite the appearance of drama. They do not worry about the plane going down, they worry about arriving at their destination late or having to be diverted to another airport.

In the case of this Sochi flight, that’s exactly what happened, the plane was forced to be diverted. However, just as quickly as the water spouts appeared, they vanished in a similar fashion. Minutes after the plane passed through, the clouds began to clear and a blue sky started to peek through. 

While these photographs paint a terrifying picture, it’s so reassuring to know just how hard it is to take down a plane. Hearing it from the mouths of pilots themselves is even more comforting.

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