Hi there, 

It's been just over a year since I first looked on the website and started using some of Captain Keith's tips and strategies, as well as accessing the wealth of info he shares with us on here and in the book. Since then, I've had 2 enjoyable flights, both to Gran Canaria.... And a recent return flight to the UK that was not so enjoyable - but a good test for me!!

All of my most recent flights have been smooth, fair weather, turbulence-free flights, so coming in to land last Monday eve at Gatwick Airport in the gale-force winds was a very different experience. The pilot made one attempt and then decided he wasn't going to try again at Gatwick, so we diverted to East Midlands where the landing was relatively smooth. Although the attempt at Gatwick felt very alarming to me because it was so bumpy and the only mental strategy I felt I had left was to try and zone out as much as possible and detach myself from the whole situation, at the back of my mind was what Captain Keith has explained about the 'go-around'. As the final approach got bumpier and bumpier, it was reassuring to know that this is an option for the pilot and when we did suddenly climb again, I knew exactly what was happening, and it felt like a huge relief. What stuck in my mind was Captain Keith saying it is completely routine for pilots to do this (if not a little tricky in some circumstances, surely??). So knowing that this is nothing out of the ordinary for pilots to deal with was very reassuring. If I hadn't known what was happening, I think I would have panicked... even more :-/ What also helped was having prompt updates from the cabin crew and the pilot himself - he seemed to announce his new plan to divert very quickly and of course sounded completely calm! I did want to literally kiss the tarmac when we got off at E. Midlands, though :-)

So now having felt fearful again, I am a little concerned about it affecting getting on a plane again for me (I am planning a trip to the US in April). Initially I felt quite triumphant when we got off the plane on Monday - I mean, those must be some of the roughest weather conditions to fly in, surely? So now I have experienced first-hand 'the worst' and a go-around, and seen it all handled so smoothly, I feel like turbulence and changes of plan needn't bother me so much. The thought is much worse than what happens in reality.

One question though: The pilot clearly told us that the tower at Gatwick had informed him of 30mph winds with 40mph gusts, yet he said on the final approach there were 80mph gusts at 2000ft and that the 4 aircraft in front of us had also gone around. Why would there be such a discrepancy between the weather report he receives and what it's like in reality?

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Comment by Helen Savin on December 27, 2013 at 5:15pm

Thank you for your comments, Keith. I am finding more and more that information is everything to me and really goes such a long way to helping me deal with my fear. And I am also finding that as the fear drops away, all the info about the plane and flying, etc is just so fascinating in itself - and I'm guessing that everything I've heard from you is just the tip of the iceberg!

Thanks again - it's just great to know you're there. H

Comment by Captain Keith on December 27, 2013 at 4:46pm

The wind report was quite normal, the wind is slowed by being in contact with the ground and all the all the obstructions like hills and buildings.

Therefore the wind at the surface will always be less than the wind at altitude. It is unlikely that the gusts were 80 mph,  that was probably a slip of the time or perhaps you misheard it.

The crew probably decided to divert to East Midlands when they received the Gatwick weather during  you  flight home. All they had to do was to fly the approach and see if they could land and then implement the plan that was already decided earlier.

You have done very well and I send you my congratulations. This will be an inspiration to other people on this site. Well done.

Keith

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