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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Crazy Airports.

Two of my favorite airports of all time.

The old Kai Tak International at Hong Kong. The direct approach path of aircraft is blocked by a hill (the "checkerboard" hill), so these big jets have to make a steep turn to their right to avoid the hill before they are lined up properly. Just before landing, they have to fly low over cluttered housing and a four-lane highway.

Utterly mad.

I sat through two of these landings myself, once in '92 (United Airlines) and once in '97 (Cathay Pacific).

Quite an experience.

You start high up in the air, just below puffy white clouds when suddenly the jumbo makes an insane right turn (like 45 degrees man!) and once it straightens out, residential buildings zip by at eye level and you can immediately see the airport.

Then you land in like 2 seconds.

Too bad this is history now.

Here is another classic airport, Princess Juliana International at St. Maarten, in the Caribbean. The relatively short runway is located right next to the beach, and St. Maarten is a popular resort island that attracts loads of tourists.

The result: big jumbos fly at insanely low heights over naked beach-goers.


I gotta to go there someday me.