Thursday, July 24, 2008

Extreme Crosswinds

Ever been in a plane and thought you had a rough landing? A few bumps from wind are ok - the real fun comes when the wind is blowing sideways across the runway - the hated crosswind. Instead of pointing the plane directly at the runway, you have to cant the nose sideways into the crosswind, and allow the aircraft to effectively crab diagonally forward.

And then the fun part being that as you hit the runway, you have to twist the plane back in line with the runway, so that as the wheels grip, you don't run off sideways due to your diagonal approach. Of course, nothing is more fun than an extreme crosswind landing!

Here's a Korean Airlines 747, which having survived the insane approach to the old Kai-Tak airport at Hong Kong, comes out of the final big turn and then manages to mess up his approach horrifically in quite a light crosswind. This should really have resulted in a go-around, and the pilots insistence in sticking it on the runway only just comes off.

Here's an example of someone getting it very, very wrong in a much smaller Airbus, trying to set down in Hamburg, in a much more extreme crosswind situation.

Having nearly decorated the airfield with the plane, the pilot ultimately does well to perform a go-around and manage to get it back in the air again in one piece.

It puts in perspective what most of us mistakenly call a "rough" landing...

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