Windshear: Why pilots learn to respect the weather

The events at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on 2 August 1985 played an integral role in how pilots learn to respect the weather. Right from the very start of flying school, understanding how the clouds, wind and rain affect the performance of your aircraft is key to becoming a safe pilot.

On that fateful day, from descending at a controllable 1,000 feet per minute (a normal approach will be around 700 feet per minute), the aircraft then began to descend at 1,800 feet per minute, the airspeed reducing suddenly to 130 knots. As the engines had been at idle power, it took six long seconds for the full power to come into effect. This quickly brought the speed back up to a safe level and reduced the rate of descent. After that, it began to descend at a sickening 3,000 feet per minute. When just 300 feet above the ground, this descent rate had increased to 5,000 feet per minute. Despite the best efforts of the pilots to fly the aircraft back up into the air, they hit the ground around one mile short of the runway.

Of the 163 people on board, 136 lost their lives that evening.

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