Cattywampus, or catawampus as some pronounce it, is a Southern term for something that’s not straight or centered.  There’s many times and places where it is warranted, justified, or even expected.  A commercial airplane landing isn’t one of those places that I think many would expect to hear this term used.

[kat-uhwom-puh s]


askew; awry.


positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.


diagonally; obliquely:

We took a shortcut and walked catawampus across the field.

Working in the travel field, I talk to pilots all the time.  I’ve also thought about obtaining my pilot’s license as well.  So, the landing itself isn’t surprising to me at all.  Pilots are trained to land in cross winds, and I’d guess that they would all experience such a landing at least once in their careers.

The technique is called crabbing, and there are many videos available showing crosswind landings.  This particular crosswind landing at O’Hare just happened to be televised on TV.

A tip of the cap to the Captain and First Officer of that bird because they performed just as training would dictate.  Looking at that video made me think of something I learned long ago.

There’s one particular plane that was designed to land in cross winds, and it can even taxi down the runway or taxiway kicked out sideways, or cattywampus, to accommodate the wind.  The B-52 Stratofortress can taxi and land with the landing gear turned off-center to keep the plane aligned with the runway in a crosswind situation.

Seems like this wouldn’t be a bad design idea for commercial planes.  However on second thought, I don’t know how many people would fly again if they were actually able to see the approaching runway out of their window when they’re not supposed to be able to see the runway at all.


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