Hurricane Gonzalo has made travel quite an ordeal around the UK. According to the Independent, strong winds and heavy rain have led to numerous flight cancellations by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, SAS, and KLM among others.
With winds at Bradford Leeds Airport in the north of England still hitting speeds of more than 30mph — days after the storm has passed — landing at the country’s busy airports have been made even more of challenge. Videos of pilots attempting to land on windswept runways during the storm — like the Jet2 Boeing 737 at Bradford Leeds shown above — have spread across the internet.
In these videos, pilots are seen drifting their planes sideways before touching down on the runway. This manoeuvre — known as “crabbing” — requires the pilot to allow the crosswind to push to nose of the plane towards the side before using the rudder to correct the direction of plane upon touchdown.
It’s a manoeuvre that’s used not only in airliners, but also by bush pilots in treacherous locales, such as Alaska, and also by glider pilots.
In 2012, the pilots of this Emirates Airlines Boeing 777-300ER made this spectacular landing at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany.
There have been examples of great crosswind landings from the U.S., as well. This American Airlines Boeing 767-300 made this terrific landing earlier this year at a windy O’Hare Airport in Chicago.
However, the grand-daddy of all windy runways is the old Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong. Although the airport was replaced by a brand-new facility in 1998, the footage of action-packed landings endures on in aviation folklore (and on the Internet).
Kai Tak was particularly challenging, due to its heavy crosswinds and it location between Hong Kong’s harbour, high rise buildings, and mountains.
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