Introducing ourselves

Let’s use this topic to introduce ourselves to one another, as BumpySkies users, as travelers, and as fellow citizens of this jet-connected and ever-accelerating world.

How did you come across BumpySkies? What’s your history with air travel, and what does travel look and feel like for you, these days? If you’re a nervous flier who needs to travel anyway, how do you manage your airborne anxieties?

Do allow me to start: Hello! I’m Jason McIntosh, the creator of

Today I live in New York City, working for Google as a technical writer. Before that, I worked for many years as a freelance software engineer; it was during this period, in 2016, when I developed and released BumpySkies as a personal side project.

The son of enthusiastic travelers, I spent a fair portion of my childhood at 30,000 feet, all up and down the American east coast. For no narratively interesting reason I started developing a fear of flying in my late teens. By my mid-thirties it had become severe enough to blunt my ability to travel any significant distance. I also found myself partnered up with someone who loved to travel, and had little patience for leaving me at home to stew in my anxieties.

So, I resolved to find a path through my fears. You can see a record of my journey in the hyperlinks on BumpySkies’s FAQ, including the online courses I took and books I read in the 2010s. BumpySkies was sort of a personal “senior thesis”, synthesizing a lot of information and resources I had learned about flight’s scariest aspect for me: the unpredictability of turbulence.

I still don’t love flying, but through knowledge planning tools like BumpySkies, and in-the-moment techniques like meditative breathing exercises, I can usually tolerate it all right.

How about you?

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Hi! I’m Liza. I’ve found BumpySkies a huge help when flying—an activity I used to enjoy but for no clear reason became less and less pleasant after a decade or more of active traveling. (I learned about it from Jason directly since we’ve worked together in a few organizations.)

I understand intellectually that flying is safe, but I find turbulence really anxiety-producing, and being prepared for when it’s likely to occur and how long to expect it is helpful. (BumpySkies is definitely more of a comfort than my partner, who immediately falls asleep on planes.) Flight anxiety is especially annoying for me as I love travel in general and I’m not usually risk-averse, so it feels both inconvenient and out-of-character. For that reason something that just helps me prepare and approach the situation rationally is very effective.

Thanks for making and maintaining the app, Jason!

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Love this story. I find this site helpful but try to avoid checking it compulsively. What data is being used to estimate turbulence?

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@Liza: Welcome! I know that you’ve been a user of BumpySkies for years, and I’m so glad to hear that you still find it useful.

@poolparty: Welcome to you as well! Wow, I know what you mean about compulsive checking, and I commend your commit to avoiding it.

BumpySkies data comes from two sources: a continuous feed of flight plans from the FAA, and a forecast of clear-air turbulence at varying altitudes from NOAA.

You can see the latter of these represented as simple heat maps on NOAA’s website. BumpySkies uses that same data, showing how planned flight paths intersect through it.