Under the Maelstrom — Jet Aircraft and Ominous Mammatus
Despite the menacing appearance of this photo, I doubt this aircraft was in danger. Indeed, air traffic control considered this flight path safe enough to send plane after plane along it.
This is a view looking straight up at the mammatus lining the underside of a severe thunderstorm's anvil. The storm's core is located a few miles to the west.
I suspect there were many thousands of vertical feet separating the plane and the mammatus. But the clouds provide nothing we can use to judge scale or size, so it's easy to fall under the illusion that the plane is skimming the surface of a violent, boiling maelstrom.