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Expert explains 'wake turbulence' after airplane crash report

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EUGENE, Ore. -- Following a recent report on an airplane crash that took place on May 20 north of Eugene, an expert explains the meaning of "wake turbulence."

The National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report said pilot Bob Cross, 51, was warned of wake turbulence prior to the crash. Cross had been flying a two-seat aircraft.


Steve Boulton with I Fly Aviation said this turbulence happens when the high and low pressures around the wings of an aircraft meet. 

"As those come together they produce what most people would think of as small tornadoes," Boulton said. He said he and his peers refer to them as "vortices."

And according to Boulton, they're not an uncommon occurrence. He said he is warned of them on a nearly daily basis. 

"Generally it's around the airport where large aircrafts are taking off and landing. That's where the biggest concern is," Boulton said.

The report did not list this phenomenon as a cause for the crash, and National Transportation Safety Board officials will continue to investigate. 

Cross remains at RiverBend Hospital, where he was taken after surviving the crash. He had life-threatening injuries -- including multiple fractures and a head trauma -- but is reportedly on the mend.

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