Fear of Flying in Bad Weather: Wind

Seems like a good time to write this as I’m sat in my house listening to gale force winds hammer the windows outside! Makes me want to go flying!

Strong winds can cause some ‘exciting’ take-offs and landings. At lower levels, wind can cause the aircraft to sway back and forth, but the pilots are well trained for this.

As always, airlines and airports will have wind speed limits. If the wind is too strong they will choose not to land or take-off. Simple as that! Aircraft are designed to be able to fly in stronger winds than you may think – and although landings can seem scary in these conditions, they are not.

Aircraft land into the wind, as this allows the aircraft to slow down and eventually stop on the runway. If you ever experience a landing in strong winds, do not be alarmed. Rest assured that the pilot knows exactly how strong the wind is, and how to land the plane safely.

If at any time the wind becomes too strong, and he/she becomes unhappy with the conditions then a go-around will be instigated – and possibly a diversion to a nearby airport where the wind is not as strong.

NB: All aircraft carry more fuel than they need for the flight in case of bad weather conditions. We need enough to allow us to circle (in what’s called a holding pattern), or possibly divert to another airport.

Crosswinds is a term used when the wind is blowing across the runway (rather than down it). Planes are thoroughly tested in strong crosswinds. Here is a quick video for you;

It’s important to note that it’s not likely that a commercial aircraft will land in crosswinds as strong as shown in the video. But, the aircraft must be able to land in extreme conditions before being given a certificate allowing it to fly passengers.

I’m sure you noticed the planes coming in almost sideways. This is normal procedure in crosswind landings so do not be alarmed.

In summary, it’s perfectly safe to fly in strong wind. The aircraft can handle it, and the pilots are well trained to do so. Just expect it to be a little bumpy during take-off and landing. But, there is nothing to be scared of. Your safety is never compromised.

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Comments

  1. Sam says

    Thanks for this, I was in a really windy landing yesterday which I found terrifying but this has calmed me for my flight back. Cheers

  2. Jason Guimond says

    Hi I’m suposed to go on a flight in two days and I’m terified of turbulance, what scares me with turbulance is that the wings could let go I know this might sound crazy but that’s exactly what goes on in my head… Hope you can help me out before my flight.
    Thanks
    Jason

    • Joshua says

      The wings on an airliner are designed to bend and flex with turbulence so that they won’t over stress and break off. Some of the wings can flex as much as thirty feet up or down before they begin to over stress themselves. The most severe turbulence I have ever seen was rated at 2G’s or twice the force of gravity. Aircraft are generally certificated for stress far beyond a measley 2G’s. Also, when in severe turbulence pilots are trained to slow the aircraft down to a speed we call “V a” (Vee Aay) or design maneuvering speed. At this speed the aircrafts wings cannot generate enough force to rip themselves off.

  3. Mrs Joyce says

    Hello I’m due to fly on holiday with my family 2 children under 3, I’ve worked myself up so much I’m considering cancelling the holiday, I really don’t no what to do. I no they say flying is the safest form of travel, but to me in my head it spells danger and the thought of putting my babies in danger is terrifying me. I don’t no were the fear has come from as I’ve flown dozens of times growing up. I had to fly back from Amsterdam last year on my own ….long story but the doctors had to give me Valium to keep me calm lol. I’m trying to find and arm myself with as much info as I can, hoping it will help in some way. Any comforting advice would be greatly appreciated.
    An extremely terrified mummy :(

    • Joshua says

      It’s a bit late, but here’s some facts about pilots and flying. The FAA drills it into our heads to be safe. I personally have what I call a bushido code (like the old samurai warriors) that specifies certain conditions where I refuse to even take-off. Before each flight I spend a good effort examing things like the weather in order to make certain that the flight will be safe and not exceed either my skills or the abilities of the aircraft I am flying. I am pilot who has been flying for almost 14 years now. Remember the pilot has just as much to lose as you do which is why we won’t fly when its unsafe.

  4. Matt says

    Nice website!

    If flying was at all dangerous then I’m certain very few people would risk becoming flight attendants.

    That said I’m not a great flyer. I used to drink onboard but now I’m a teetotaler so I’m having to deal with my fear on a normal level

  5. mary says

    I am reading these little episodes and do feel a little better, but the anxiety comes back in my mind, I just don’t know how to really over come this fear

  6. Cheryl says

    I have flown for years and just have a mistrust of mechanical things and too much worry of human error. I drink wine on board to calm me, I count, I pray, I meditate…………these are the things I do to get through it all. Most often flights are great, but I have had some TERRIFYING rides….

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