Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

Storm Ciara: videos show incredible skill of pilots landing at UK airports

Pilots from Emirates, Air New Zealand and British Airways showed their skills in tough conditions

Storm Sabine raged around northern Europe on Sunday and Monday, leaving more than 200,000 holidaymakers stranded as flights were cancelled.

But those already in the air when the storm – also called Ciara – hit were in for a bumpy ride on reaching the UK, where gusts of up to 144kph and heavy rain made for difficult or aborted landings at airports across the country.

As jets large and small tried to touch down and disgorge their passengers safely, videos showing the shaky landings were shared online.

In one video, an Emirates plane is brought under control by its pilot as heavy winds and a wet runway cause it to move sideways.

Many of the attempted and successful landings were captured on video by Big Jet TV, a live-streaming service dedicated to planespotting. The enthusiasm of host Jerry Dyer at London’s Heathrow airport added to the excitement for many viewers.

Mr Dyer explained the “shed effect” in which strong winds roll over warehousing surrounding the runway, creating a vortex effect. This, he said, caused the airport to divert flights to a different runway where it would be safer to land.

Birmingham airport was also battered by high winds, with a Wizz Air jet making a spectacular landing in heavy crosswinds. The plane appeared almost horizontal to the runway at points, eventually bumping along the surface to safety.

Lebanese pilots received thanks for their role in landing a Middle East Airline Flight in London. The host of the live stream praised their skills.

Not all landings were successful first time. The Big Jet TV stream showed a British Airways flight conducting a “touch & go” – in which pilots are trained to touch the ground briefly in dangerous conditions before taking off.

One pilot felt so inspired by the commitment of ground workers at UK airports she took to the tarmac to deliver a message of thanks as rain lashed her face.

She wasn’t alone. Countless comments on social media noted the skill of the pilots in managing landing in such difficult conditions.

“These pilots certainly deserve a lot of respect,” Dr Sandeep Parwaga wrote beneath the Big Jet TV live stream.

Updated: February 12, 2020 02:04 PM

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