OKLAHOMA CITY – If you’ve been outside lately, you’ve probably had to fight the wind a time or two.
However, your battle with Mother Nature is nothing compared to that of a few pilots who had to land in Oklahoma City recently.
On Wednesday afternoon, KFOR pilot Jon Welsh was flying in Bob Moore Chopper 4 when he and photojournalist Steve Johnson noticed a United Express plane preparing to land at Will Rogers World Airport.
The video has since been viewed millions of times, with many people commenting they are glad they weren’t on the flight.
For a group of students and teachers from Crescent High School, it was a flight they won’t soon forget.
Before the group left the Houston airport, the pilot warned that it would likely be a bumpy ride.
Things were going smoothly until they got close to landing.
“When we started going down, it got really bad,” said Kristen Toepfer, a student on the flight.
“It felt like going back and forth and up and down, a little like a roller coaster,” said Erica Carey.
As the plane reached the runway, it began to sway with the wind.
“I was right behind the wing, and I could see the wing – back and forth and back and forth,” said Lisa Toepfer, a passenger on the flight.
From the outside, the plane could be seen noticeably shifting with the wind.
Inside, the passengers were holding on tight.
“She (the flight attendant) came on the intercom and said ‘Everyone buckle up. Nobody walk around. Get in an upright position,” Lisa said.
“When you looked out the window, you could tell we were coming in sideways a little bit,” Carey said.
The plane landed just after 4 p.m., putting passengers safely on the ground.
“Once we landed and everyone was gripping their seats, you could hear this collective sigh of relief in the plane that we were safely on the ground,” Carey said.
Welsh said the pilot did exactly what they are trained to do when dealing with the wind.
“They have to keep the nose with the wind as long as they can to generate lift over the wings and then, at some point, they have to turn the aircraft and get in line with the runway to land on the runway,” Welsh said.
While incredible to the average eye, he’s said this type of landing is actually fairly common.
“Here in Oklahoma, it happens about 20 days a year when there’s a decent crosswind component they have to deal with. So, it wasn’t really that unusual to see,” Welsh said.
Despite the rough ride, the passengers said they were very impressed by their pilot.
“I would like to say thank you to the pilot that did an amazing job landing,” Carey said.
We have contacted United Airlines about the story and the work by their pilot to safely land the plane.
United Airlines sent KFOR a response after viewing the video:
“All of our pilots are trained to land in heavy cross winds as part of our rigorous training program. This pilot did a great job of executing his training and landing the aircraft safely, and we are confident that any of our well-trained pilots would have done the same.”