One of the latest videos to go viral on YouTube is one showing a Boeing 737-430 trying to land at Václav Havel Airport in Prague, Czech Republic. On the first attempt, because of too much wind, the pilot realises that a perfect landing might not be possible. So the plane turns around and makes a second, successful attempt.
Every few months a video like this goes viral. On October 1, a similar video of a pilot making two attempts to land received two million views.
In 2015, YouTuber Cargospotter had uploaded a similar video of a plane swaying as it landed because of windy conditions. “I have filmed lots of crosswind landings within the past four years but this was the first time I was able to film an A380 crosswind landing,” Cargospotter wrote in the description of the video. “All crosswind landings are amazing but seeing an A380 fighting against the wind was something special. In addition to that the runway was very wet and the A380 touched down a little late.”
The video sharing site has thousands of videos depicting similar scenes.
One of the most popular among these has received 30 million views after it was shared in 2014. The video collected various takeoffs and landings in awkward weather conditions during a record winter for stormy conditions at the Birmingham Airport in the United Kingdom, which has become a popular location to shoot these videos.
While the videos frequently go viral because of the perceived danger of the landing, that is not the actual reality.
In a column in USA Today, retired airline captain John Cox explained that while crosswinds make it challenging for pilots, it isn’t dangerous:
Landing in a strong, gusty crosswind is challenging. This skill is one that all professional pilots must master early in their careers. Every airplane has a crosswind limit that pilots respect. Judgment is essential to determine when the conditions are too severe to safely land. It can be difficult, but good judgment keeps it from being dangerous.
Another former pilot chose a few crosswind videos and explained what happened in each and wrote:
Depending on the conditions, the type of airplane, and the pilot, you are likely to encounter any of the above techniques when you travel by air. The technique and the quality will vary, but one thing is for certain, the majority of the takeoffs and landings will be in crosswind conditions.
A scientific study published earlier this year claimed that instances of more severe turbulence were set to increase and that air travel would become more expensive as a result of climate change.
So expect more viral videos and more uncomfortable flights.
Corrections and Clarifications: An earlier version of this article stated that Prague was located in Czechoslovakia. It is actually located in the Czech Republic.