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(CNN) – One second you're on the plane, sipping a soda and leafing through a well-worn SkyMall catalogue. The next second, you're terrified and being tossed around like a sock in the clothes dryer for what feels like an eternity.
That is how passengers are describing their experience on a United Airlines flight headed from Denver to Billings, Montana.
The plane was about 30 miles outside a town called Crazy Woman, Wyoming, when things got beyond crazy on board.
Five people had to be taken to the hospital after the plane hit what's being described as "mountain wave turbulence." Only one remains in the hospital.
Mountain wave turbluence can happen even when skies are clear, like they were during this flight. It's basically when wind blows across the top of a mountain, creating atmospheric waves. Aviation experts say it can cause planes to rise or fall about 1000 feet.
Retired American Airlines captain Mark Weiss, currently the civil aviation team lead for The Spectrum Group, joins CNN's "The Lead" to discuss.