Monday, 15 September 2008

Hairy Airport Landings....

Landing at Wellington International Airport, in NZ, can be *interesting* at times.

The airport is on a narrow isthmus between the *mainland* and what was once an island, before a major earthquake, in the 1800's, joined them together. In the 50's a rather insane decision, was made by the city fathers, to place Wellington's airport on the isthmus. It was finally opened in 1959 after a major engineering and reclamation effort.

Wellington is not known as 'The Windy City' for nothing. At the airport you can get some strong wind gusts, especially side gusts. This makes for some spectacular take offs and landings. The wind problems are further compounded by the fact that the run ways are short. There is really no safety margin for mistakes at either end of the airport, just the sea. A pilot once told me that is you can land and take off from WIA, than you can land and takeoff anywhere.

I've been a passenger on flights, coming into Wellington, where the whole cabin has given the pilots a standing ovation,once we've landed ... it can be that hairy!! I also lived right next to he airport, so I had a ringside seat to some of the shenanigans. Despite all this, the airport has an extremely good safety record, which is a tribute to the flying skills of the pilots landing there..

This video was made by the airport's fire service. Shows their machines and some of their training. The last part of the video, from 2:26 onwards, shows some of the take offs and landings, that I'm talking about !!!


A near miss at WIA. Look how close to the ground the plane is, before the pilot aborts the landing . Been on one of those types of flights, as well !!

14 comments:

Insane Mama said...

I love flying, not sure how much I would like THOSE landings though

Kat said...

The side to side of those planes - oh, wow! And I can't imagine being on a plane about to land only to have it take back off again. Freaky, freaky!

Karen said...

Insane Mama - It's like being on a roller coaster!! :-)

Kat - Been on a landing there where the plane has gone side to side then up and down, then once it's landed, it sort of bounced down the first part of the runway. *Interesting* :-)

Anne said...

Just happens to be our nearest Internation Airport!!! I'm not a good passenger, I tend grip the seat or Peter's knee at even the slightest bit of turbulence!

LOL - well I'm laughing now - one flight into Wellington years ago, the pilot announced "All survivors may now disembark!!"

Toni said...

Oh My! I used to love flying, but as I get older (and probably as the planes get older too) I get more paranoid.

I'm not sure how I would handle a landing like that.

Rhea said...

Oh, man, that side to side action would have me barfing, I bet. Yikes. That's quite a scary landing strip!!

Debbie said...

OH MY WORD. Those ARE some skilled pilots for sure. I would be freaking out if I had to land like that everytime. Wow.

Jennifer said...

Yowza! My motion sickness kicked in just watching that!

MargieAnne said...

I'm never a happy chappie if we end up with a stop over in Wellington when on our way to Christchurch. It's happened once or twice and I had to keep telling myself the pilot had done it dozens of times and knew what he was doing because his life was on the line too. It must have been the truth because we landed safely in high wind.

Chris H said...

the only time I have ever thought I WAS GOING TO DIE on a plane was landing in Wellington! It is a horrendous airport for cross winds, you are not wrong there!

Jen B. said...

I'm not sure I'd survive one of those landings! I love to fly but am a big chicken when things don't go exactly like they're supposed to. Although, I love roller coasters, so maybe I'd like it???

Julie said...

Oh my, those videos are scarey... thanks for sharing...wow!

Michelle said...

I daresay that you hav just convinced me to fly into a different airport when I go to NZ. My husband would have a heart attack on the plane. He really doesn't do well with turbulence in general. Do any ever flip?

Deb Burton said...

Holy cow! I'd love to visit NZ, but there'd HAVE to be another airport to fly into. How long would a shipliner take?