Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Speaking of Airports

Now that title was supposed to follow Juvat's Monday post "Airport Festivities" which would have worked out quite well as far as titles go, but Sarge had other plans.  He's the boss, so I humbly gave up my semi-regular Tuesday slot for his post-Labor Day post.

Nevertheless, this is a mostly aviation-centric blog, with the writing staff here at The Chant having been involved in flying during our military careers.  Now?  Not so much, unless you count the desk I fly for the Navy these days.  Sure, we still fly, but instead of being paid to do it, we pay some corporation to let us fly the friendly skies.  And boy do we pay them!  I looked into flights to Hawaii for a family trip next June after the teenangster graduates high school, and I'll be taking out a second mortgage if we qualify.

I'm still very much interesting in aviation, reading blogs like AskSkipper, Fightersweep, and this one of course.  And I watch (or watched) shows such as Dangerous Flights, Wings on the Discovery Channel, Dogfights, and even Air Disasters.  I'll even admit to watching airplane drivel such as Airplane Repo, which has to be the biggest phony of all "reality" TV shows since the invention of reality TV, but it's something to play in the background as I read the blogs or research content for this one.  As a side note, that show was narrated by Mike Rowe, but no longer.  I hope he quit because the show was so cheesy and that he has too much respect for himself.

Because of that interest, and most of my friends and relatives knowing that I once flew for a living, I'm either emailed material, or I'm always on the hunt for interesting airplane stories, jokes, and photos.  One of the recent ones had to do with crazy and/or dangerous approaches and runways.  I though it would make a good blog post for one of my Tuesdays Wednesdays.  So, with no interest in being all snarky and political today, and a lack of a decent trivia post in the recesses of my noggin, I bring you a bunch of airplane-ish pictures- some from an email you might have also received, but with a few others I've heard about over the years.  I hope you're happy.  It takes a lot of work to copy stuff from email into a post.  That's right, I said I wouldn't be snarky.  So fasten your seat belts low and tight across your lap and put your tray tables up...

This 4000 foot runway is somewhere in India.  Probably a beautiful approach, but an awfully short strip.  If the plane overruns the runway, you'll have a short swim to the next island though.

This is Courcheval Altiporte in the French Alps.  I've used it before, as it was the airport depicted in the James Bond film "Goldeneye."  It's at nearly 1800 feet with a sharp drop off- both in the middle of the runway, and at the end of course.  Before landing, I think pilots have to call the runway environment in sight, but what do you do if you don't have the take off environment in sight?

A Beech King Air on its after-landing run out.


Don Mueang Airport in Thailand.

"What did you say?  I can't hear you with that airplane behind you."

This one is in Gibraltar, and while a runway extending into the sea isn't all that crazy, take a look at the lower right side of the picture.

Yep, that's a city street- Winston Churchill Avenue intersecting the runway.  Don't run any red lights!  Seems like an engineer that could develop a runway into the bay could figure out how to build an underpass for the cars.

Gisborne New Zealand has a different type of thoroughfare running across its runway.  Before takeoff, you have to check NOTAMs, the weather, and the local train schedule.

Old Kai Tak Airport approach in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has replaced this runway with one further out into the bay, but I remember seeing the big last minute turns as we ferried in from the carrier during port visits.

Speaking of runways in the bay, this one is near Osaka Japan.  When they miss the landing, the pilots are required to call out Bolter Bolter Bolter!

Madeira Airport in Portugal is built off the side of the land, improving on the original runway which was close to the mountainside.

Barra Airport Scotland

The seaside airport in Northern Scotland has a runway that is often covered by the ocean during high tide.  That's because there isn't really a runway, airplanes land on the beach.  Surf's Up!

St. Barts

This one has probably been seen before as the beach from which it was taken is very popular among tourists due to the proximity of the runway to the public beach.  St. Maarten is where the opening shot and this picture are from.


This one isn't so crazy, but I like it enough to use it here.  It's the approach to San Diego's Lindbergh Field, which takes passengers and crew over Interstate 5, and the five story Laurel Travel Center, which requires a relatively steep approach.  The proponents of a joint military-civilian airport at Miramar tried to claim that it made the approach too dangerous, but with zero accidents and hundreds of pilots saying it was safe, the argument failed, as did the effort to move the airport.

You don't have to be Sir Edmund Hillary to reach this airport, but it's quite elevated nevertheless.  Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Nepal has a 9300 foot drop at the end of its runway.

This is Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport on the Caribbean Island of Saba.  At 1300 feet, it has what is thought to be the shortest runway for a commercial airport anywhere in the world.

While many of these airports are only serviced by propeller aircraft, here's one of the scarier runways that US carriers fly jets into- Tegucigalpa, Honduras.


By the way, I'm sorry I can't seem to get these videos centered up.  I tried to crash Sarge's Blogging 101 class, but it was full.  So, about these airports- been to any of them?  Do you have any others that I might have missed?  What about scary landings?  Hmm, probably a post or two in there for Juvat!  Let me know in the comments. what you can shake loose from your cobwebs.

I'll leave you with the shortest runway I've ever seen, and had a few scary landings on it back in the day.

USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62), although since it has Phantoms aboard, it's a bit before my time.


  1. Great post Tuna. I now have a list of places I don't want to visit if I have to fly there.

    Yeah, Tuesday, I didn't see a post in the hopper and was all fired up to give at least an acknowledgement to the Monday holiday. Gomen nasai.

    As to centering the videos, I'm not sure what is going on with the HTML. Blogger sometimes has a mind of it's own. I have already ruined one keyboard with trying to fix the HTML in some of my posts. Go to "Compose" and Blogger puts in extra blank lines, go to "HTML" and remove extra blank lines and it looks fine. Go back to "Compose" and bingo, the excess blank lines return.

    I'm sure at this point in time XBradTC would be singing the praises of WordPress, but truth be told WordPress will often do the same to me. As in, not bending to my will. I hate software which I cannot dominate. Often The Missus Herself has heard me bellow, "Gorram it computer, will you let ME drive!?!?!?"

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled program...

    1. Another alternative is to change the size of the video to fit the frame.
      That way it doesn't matter if it's left, right, or center justified.

    2. Uncle Skip- what are those figures? It defaults to something like 440 and 570, and increasing those obviously increase the size, but the best ones to make it fit the frame I haven't figured out.

    3. Tuna, use this pattern - (Replace the "{" and "}" with "<" and ">" - Blogger doesn't like this HTML in the comments. It works in a post.)

      {div style="text-align: center;"}{iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="540" src="// YOUTUBE CODE HERE" width="960">{/iframe}{/div>{br /}

      That's all one line, not separate lines.

      You can vary the size accordingly, hitting Preview will show you what it looks like.

      The YouTube "code" can be found in the URL for the video after the "v=".

      For your Honduras landing the URL looks like this ""

      The code is v_z5HtME9n8.

      I used to use the built in Blogger way of including videos but that sucks. Many of our old posts are missing the videos. Use this method and as long as the video is still available in YouTube we're good.

      Shoot me an email if you have any questions.

    4. Thanks. I'm sure I will. Can't they just add a "center" button?

    5. Well, there is one up on the tool bar, place the cursor at the leading edge of the photo / video and you can center it that way.

      Short cutter!

  2. Hey, I just went back and looked and discovered that there was an airplane in your first picture! :-)

  3. I've only been a passenger, but to a lot of places since My Dad worked for many airlines and we traveled free. I remember the Hong Kong airport as having one of the scariest approaches of all, what with the surrounding mountains.

  4. One of my favorite memories is doing millions of push ups in the sand of Worm Island while thousands of carefree, not-in-bootcamp, people flew overhead.

    "Yew eyeballin' that freedom bird, boy?"

    One white-knuckler that comes to mind is landing at Fallon in an iced up C-9. Rather an abrupt arrival. Gander in the clag was sporty too.

  5. Although this airport doesn't rank on your list, I've heard it is still interesting - right on Catalina Island.

    That airport in the Alps - at 1800' long and a crazy dip I would think planes like that King Air have to drop at the end to pick up speed?

  6. Haven't piloted a bird into any of those airports, but I have been aboard a 747 into Kai Tek. Coming out of an overcast and seeing buildings on either side higher than you is an interesting experience. We took a Caribbean cruise a few years ago. Saw the 747 thing in St Maarten as well as sailed by Saba. It's hard to get an idea just how short that one is from a photograph. It's SHORT!

    Been into Don Mueang and Osaka, nothing really special. The only airport I piloted a jet into that had any idiosyncracies was Clark. I don't think there is a single time I landed there that I didn't think I'd blown a tire. Concrete runway that had heaved and settled. Darn Jet would bounce and rattle as you got her slowed. Even got to ride up front on a Cargo 747 one time. It wasn't any better. Co-Pilot was on his first trip to the PI, and asked the Capt if they'd blown a tire. "Nope, just a standard landing at Clark" nearly simultaneous from Me, the Captain and the Flight Engineer.

  7. I forgot the short coral runway we landed on at PMRF in Kauai. We were cautioned to be extra careful with the brakes, but we still smoked the tires. Fortunately we were still within NATOPS limits and only 2 layers of tread had been burned through- 3 was when a tire required changing. The strip has been replaced since then, with a nice long paved runway.

  8. Use Google Earth to look at Runway 22 on Kodiak, then contemplate going around.

  9. I have been to Lindbergh Field before. No biggy.
    Cat shot from cat four off Independence in Miss Belle in 76 and cat 1 off Lexington in Casper in 77. I got a trap on The Hawk in Miss Piggy 2 in late 1985 somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

  10. I took off from Lindbergh as a pax in the old N-S shuttle to SF in Dec 1966 after driving from Del Rio to SD during UPT over Christmas vacay. Remember flying below office tower windows and then a slow circle between buildings on a foggy early morn t.o. Also experienced Kai Tex during R& R in '68. Interesting. Only one I actually flew into was Don Muang in an O-2 in '68 for a long weekend R&R, er "planning conference", flying over from DaNang. Managed to make that little trip twice.. Was thru Clark as a Pax only over the southern route to RVN out of Norton AFB in LA--came back direct to LAX via Japan & Elmendorf. Otherwise it was all the runway at DaNang, period, for my F-4 experience. My O-1/O-2 experience took me to garden spots like Quang Nai City, Tam Ky and Hue Phu-Bai..


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