Landing at Rome's Fiumicino airport tonight, I wondered how on earth pilots succeed in landing a plane if their top technology does not even allow them to keep the lights from flickering on and off in the passenger area. I thought about my last weekend's post on the near-crash at Hamburg's airport (picture above). That post spurred quite some reactions from frequent travellers.
Well, if you are in fear of flying, don't visit Top 10 Most Dangerous Aircraft Landings in the World. This site describes and shows videos from the world's most dangerous air strips, listed as:
Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong
Funchal Airport, Madeira (*)
Gustaf III Airport, St. Barts (*)
Courchevel Airport, France
Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Maarten (*)
Wellington International Airport, New Zealand
Paro Airport, Bhutan (*)
Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland
Saba Island Airport, Netherlands Antilles (*)
Lugano Airport, Switzerland (*)
Those indicated with (*) I have seen or landed at.
I would definitively add Tegucigalpa airport to this list:
I landed there at least ten times in three weeks, during the Hurricane Mitch emergency. I remember each time we approached, it seemed like we barely missed the top of the trees right before the final drop to the strip. Except for one time where it was raining that hard, we could not see a thing.
Talking about scary: try Kathmandu airport in a thunderstorm. On a PIA flight!
Or, now that we are talking about Nepal: how about Lukla? I remember so many passengers got sick on that flight, the vomit was running under the seats from the front to the back. Check out this video, and you will see why. A pity you can not feel the turbulence!
It amazes me not more accidents happen. And at the same time, I have the more admiration for the pilots.
PS: Oh, almost forgot to mention Mwanza airport in Tanzania. During an approach in 1996, I saw a sign "Beware of potholes on the landing strip". It was only AFTER landing I noticed all the wrecks besides the strip. I did not see those while landing, as I had my eyes closed. :-)
More stories about flying as an aidworker in the world's most remote locations in the short story Italians, the art of flying and the laws of probability.
Update: Sometimes it looks like some of the things I write about become reality. Within months after writing this post, a plane crashed in Tegucigalpa, and one crashed at Lukla airport.
Picture courtesy hamburg-airport-friends-forum.de