Dramatic video shows why pilots miss Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong
Eye candy for the weekend. Many airline pilots lament the closure of the infamous Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong after a larger airport was built to replace it in 1998.
The facility had a notoriously tricky approach, thus why pilots so used to reasonably standard landings elsewhere around the world liked it so much. It tested their skills as air jockeys, more than anything else.
To land on runway 13, aircraft first took a descent heading North East. They would pass over the crowded harbour, and the very densely populated areas of Western Kowloon.
Upon reaching a small hill marked with a checkerboard in red and white, used as a visual reference point on the final approach, pilots needed to make a 47-degree visual right turn to line up with the runway and land.
One particular clip (not embeddable, alas) gives plenty of examples of the landscape and crazy approach, and includes the low-key “goodbye Kai Tak, and thank you” from the landing controller as the last aircraft left the runway.
Here is probably one of the most dramatic landings ever caught on video:
And how aircraft looked from the street:
And the pilot’s view:
The airport’s safety record was poorer than other major hubs around the world, but given the conditions and notorious approach to runway 13 this is perhaps not surprising.
Kai Tak was replaced by the new Hong Kong International Airport, or Chek Kap Lok, with operations transferring in the middle of the night on July 6 1998.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.