Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Twilight Landing...

... in El-Eh.

While watching this vid it occurred to me that about the ONLY thang I miss about air travel... which I did a lot of back in Former Happy Days... is the spectacular nighttime city views one gets during a night landing.  My favorite night landing was always Dee-troit but that was more a function of coming home than the view itself.  The view was pretty good, however, given that Dee-troit is essentially flatter than flat and spread out over a VERY large area, compared to other cities.  And then there's Noo Yawk, of course, and London, and a plethora of other cities.  They are all spectacular from the air on a clear night.

But the most amazing night landing I ever experienced was at the old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong (at right)... and it was ALL about the terror, mainly because one gets the feeling your pilot is setting you down on some boulevard rather than an actual airport.  You could actually SEE people walking around inside their high-rise apartments as you were on final into Kai Tak.  THAT, Gentle Reader, is a most unnerving feeling.  I can only imagine how the residents of those apartments felt about having a 747 whistle... or roar... by their windows every two minutes or so.  I'm thinkin' those people were sure glad when Kai Tak shut down.  Me?  I was glad to have survived the landing, which was a close encounter of the disconcerting sort.


  1. Lindbergh Field in San Diego can cause some trepidation on the part of folks, too

  2. Ditto on the Lindbergh Field experience. Like the bottom drops out of your landing when you clear those hills. Makes me homesick seeing that California sunset in this video. Thanks for putting this up. EFH

  3. The landing on St. Thomas, USVI is also pretty unnerving. It once had an uber-short runway (4,650 ft) sandwiched between 2 mountains. If the pilot didn't set the plane down JUST at the base of one mountain, he'd run out of runway.

    Happened once back in 1976, one week after we had been there and on the same actual flight number. Killed nearly 40 people. Witnesses said they saw the plane actually land opposite the tower. That was MUCH too late; by then the plane should have been nearly stopped.

    Anyway, flew into that airport 3 times in my life, twice on 727s and man oh man, what a scary landing. Take-off wasn't much fun either. All of which owes to my continued dislike of airplane travel.

  4. Nothing better than seeing the lights of your home airport come into view after being gone a while.
    Generally by Friday afternoon, I had "gethome-itis" pretty bad!

  5. I think I still have scars on my arm from the time I pointed out to Grandma Skip that we were below the rooftop of the El Cortez Hotel as we flew into Lindbergh Field. It didn't help that there'd been an airplane crash recently

  6. Double Ditto on both Lindbergh (have only taken off on a foggy morn in Dec, '66) and Kai Tak (R&R from DaNang in 68) A really beautiful sight at night is the scene flying into Rapid City, S.D. with Mt. Rushmore lit up w. some really powerful flood-lights. The approach takes one practically over them.

  7. I flew into Hong Kong once, back in the mid-eighties. My husband was in a C9 squadron and every three months or so, someone had to check out at Hong Kong (guess we supported the embassy or what have you there), but those check rides meant that whomever WASN'T getting checked could fly along (w/wifey of course, way too much shopping), and being that they knew WHEN they were leaving, etc., most of the ride alongs were from the same squadron. Interesting approach, though. About as bad as the double decker bus to Stanley Market. You'd be on the highway and could look over into someone's apartment thirty stories up! Yeah, good times!

  8. Heh! It's bad enough living near a train track...can't imagine that Hong Kong deal.

    Worst landing I ever had was in Cabo San Lucas. There's nothing around the airport. But, the runway is about like your average cow pasture.

  9. Wow! And Funchal, Madeira, used to be fun with a steep drop over the mountains onto a short runway haeding into the sea.

  10. I had that landing in Hong Kong when I went there back in about 1980. Scary as hell. Take off from there was no picnic, either. We banked towards the mountains, and I'm sure more than just my prayers were said.

    My favorite thing to do when flying over any metro area was to look down and count the baseball or softball fields :-)

  11. Ivan, EFH, Skip, & Virgil: Agreed. I've flown into Lindberg a couple o' times and thought I was gonna end up on I-5 in a twisted pile o' smokin' metal.

    Kris: There's another airport in the West Indies that has an ultra-short runway, too. I've seen vids of airplanes winding up on the beach and in the water because the pilot misjudged his roll out.

    Ed: The lights of your home airport are a great sight, indeed. I HATED road work back then.

    HC: Would you believe I took my wife to Hong Kong and she didn't buy a thing? S'true, that.

    Andy: I hear ya about train tracks. ECMdP was parked about 500 yards from the tracks when I lived in Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park. You get used to it... but I DON'T think I'd get used to jets outside my window.

    Brian: I'm surprised at just how many airports are placed so close to mountains... but I suppose sometimes there's no choice.

    Jim: Yeah, I shoulda mentioned the take-off from Kai Tak, too. I'm SURE The Deity At Hand is petitioned a LOT during those take-offs.

  12. I don't think I ever flew into OKC, Lou.


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