To passengers, unexpected bumps during a flight can be utterly terrifying. But to pilots, they’re usually nothing more unusual than the bumps you’d feel while riding in a car.
Then there’s this video of a Boeing 737 aborting a landing attempt in strong crosswinds at a Prague airport earlier this month, according to the Washington Post. The plane makes quick contact with the runway as it touches down sideways, then jostles a bit before the pilot pulls it back into the air. The flight ultimately landed just fine, but the footage is nevertheless unsettling for those with a fear of flying:
We asked Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot and air travel guru, for his take on dicey-looking landings like these. He says planes won’t even attempt to land if crosswinds are too strong. But sometimes conditions change just before landing and pilots adjust, as in the video above.
“Aborting a landing and going around is not a difficult maneuver in and of itself,” Smith said. “For passengers, this maneuver can be abrupt and disconcerting, but for pilots it’s routine.”
In fact, planes are actually meant to land at an angle in heavy winds. When the wheels closest to the wind land first, it helps stop gusts from pushing the plane sideways across the runway.
“The correct technique in a crosswind is a skewed alignment,” Smith previously explained to HuffPost. “The pilots will ‘crab’ during the approach, with the jet pointed into the wind, in order to maintain a straight track.”
Smith agrees that the flight above looks bumpier than most. But it’s also a simple reminder that even when things feel uncomfortable, your pilot’s training kicks in. He or she’s got things under control.