Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
This may sound odd, but this video of a plane nearly blowing off the runway in Germany makes me feel better about flying (if you haven't seen it yet, it's incredible... Unless you're already petrified of flying, obviously). I figure if THAT landing didn't break the plane, chances are I'm awfully safe landing in a little wind gust at O'Hare (though obviously the pilots in this case deserve all the credit, not the plane). I'm no expert (spent maybe 15 hours flying a little single-engine plane before I ran out of money to support my habit) but crosswind landings are nasty. As the jet is coming in for the landing, you can see the pilot has the nose pointing way off to the right, but it's still flying straight ahead... A good sign of a nasty crosswind. The problem over the weekend started once the wheels were actually on the runway, and a huge gust of wind blew the plane sideways. Why a plane was cleared to land at all on a runway with that kind of wind is a matter for the German aviation folks, but George Bibel knows all about aviation near-misses and disasters. He wrote the book, Beyond the Black Box: The Forensics of Airplane Crashes and will explain what happens in plane v. wind landings, why we had a happy ending in this case, and why this doesn't happen more often.