Windy days ground East Texas planes

If it's not safe to land, pilots are choosinf to stay on the ground. Photo by Jamey Boyum KLTV.
If it's not safe to land, pilots are choosinf to stay on the ground. Photo by Jamey Boyum KLTV.
Updated: Apr. 19, 2018 at 6:43 PM CDT
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RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A flag blown nearly straight out or leaves in motion seems to be the norm in East Texas right now.

With the spring comes the wind, although in East Texas the wind has been around longer than just the spring. That has posed a challenge on some days for light aircraft pilots. On gusty days, smaller airports look like ghost towns.

"Wind's your friend and can be your enemy too," said David Dancer.

Dancer is a pilot and keeps his plane at the Rusk County Airport. He stays on top of the weather, especially when he wants to fly.

"Landings in a cross wind can be an issue. And if you're close to being on the ground it can blow you physically off the runway," Dancer said.

And that's why Rusk County Airport Manager Ron Franks says small plane traffic is nearly nonexistent on gusty days.

"You don't know what Mother Nature is going to do to you right before you touch down. You could be sliding sideways very quickly," Franks stated.

Franks has been a pilot for decades and flew for the military.

"Most of the time landing a small aircraft is not dangerous, but that can put an element of danger in that's not supposed to be there," Franks commented.

Experienced pilots who teach flying think it's better to keep their feet on the ground on windy days.

"And people are trying to learn to fly out here and it's very frustrating for them because the instructor doesn't want to take them up," Franks said.

"They can't get training lessons in because the wind has been so high. And in general ever since last fall the weather has really not been good for training," Dancer said.

Many East Texas airports only have one runway so if there's a crosswind pilots may have to land elsewhere.

"If you're flying to a smaller airport there's usually an airport nearby that's got a cross runway somewhere," Dancer said.

But Dancer says diverting is pretty rare.

"If the first time you come in you catch that gust well, OK let's try it again," Dancer explained.

And they both say if there's any doubt about the landing, they just blow off the flight.

The recent wind has caused a slow down in fuel sales at smaller airports. Franks says heavier commercial aircraft are not affected by crosswinds that could flip a smaller private plane.

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