In my world, both lighter- and heavier-than-air craft exist and are rather useful devices.
However, problems tend to occur when confronted with storms. Steering through a storm is not a problem in this question, but whether the craft survives it or not is an entirely different question.
The three problems are as follows:
- Strong winds put much stress on the craft
- Rain may weaken the craft further
- Lightning will have devastating effects
How can the craft be constructed to withstand a strong gale (Beaufort scale 9) without being fully cast in metal?
The craft in my world are primarily constructed of light wood and canvas, though other materials such as basic rubber, various metals and/or cellulose.
Having the aircraft made with metal (as in more modern craft, although as I understand they are more aluminium and glass fibre than anything else) would likely increase the strength of the craft, especially against lightning, but at the cost of manoeuvrability and weight, making the craft unflyable with the weak motors of the time.