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Striker, listen, and you listen close: flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.
July 21, 2007 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Amazing 747 landings at in the St. Martins [youtube] YouTube has a great collection of 747 landings at Princess Juliana International Airport in the St. Martin Islands, famous for its short landing strip — only 2,180 meters. Here's the view from the cockpit. Most of the videos seem to have been taken at Maho Beach. Here's an Airbus. Previously.
posted by KokuRyu (44 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
neat!
posted by empath at 12:15 PM on July 21, 2007


Sunset Beach Bar on St Maarten uses their seemingly-perilous location to their advantage. Their website allows you to post your near-plane experiences.

Interestingly, the two suposedly shortest runways on the planet are located on St Barths (youtube) and Saba, St. Martins nearest neighbors, excluding Anguilla, which has a much more substantial runway. The airport on the other hand...
posted by conch soup at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2007


Seeing this float by made me wonder how St. Martins' compares to the Congonhas runway where that Brazilian domestic flight slid off the runway earlier this month. A blogger has a handy comparison series but presents the data in feet and leaves St. Martins' strip off the list. He reports that the Brazilian landing strip is 6362 feet long, or just under 1940 meters, over 200 meters shorter than St. Martins.
posted by mwhybark at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2007


That first one is awesome. But were I on the road when that plane was coming over... well, the term 'screaming like a little girl' would be racing neck and neck with 'about to soil himself' for which would be a most accurate description for me.
posted by quin at 12:22 PM on July 21, 2007


There are also a380 landing videos on youtube. You can see it skid at LAX.
posted by delmoi at 12:24 PM on July 21, 2007


skid at LAX

Maybe that's why it left a mark?
posted by AwkwardPause at 12:34 PM on July 21, 2007


Winter before last we landed on that strip in a tiny little airplane no bigger than a bathtub, the service from Anguilla. It's a trip zipping over the beach and past the hotel.
posted by Peach at 12:42 PM on July 21, 2007


I'm sure there's a pilot or two who've been tempted to tip a wing and take out a few of the gawking tourists. "Woo-hoo, Joe, you just scored another 200 points!"
posted by ericb at 12:58 PM on July 21, 2007


Fun for bystanders, but for pilots and passengers, I can't imagine any runway more scary than the old HongKong Kai Tak.
posted by anthill at 1:00 PM on July 21, 2007


In that first one, is that just the jet's shadow underneath or is the plane's turbulence disturbing the water? Damn YouTube compression...
posted by brundlefly at 1:01 PM on July 21, 2007


Islands. It's just one island. Nitpick aside, it's quite spectacular, yes.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:02 PM on July 21, 2007


I love big planes and cheap flights ! Ahhh, the freedom of moving around the world ! The emotions of meeting new, different cultures !

OK, it was fun ! Lemme go back to my net, enjoying my cybersex, working at home and meeting on IRC ! Ahhh, the future !
posted by elpapacito at 1:08 PM on July 21, 2007


we go there about once a year, and when we're leaving we always get to the airport early, check our bags and go to the sunset beach bar. the planes landing are pretty awesome. if you want to experience the actual power of the jets, though, you need to stand behind the runway when they are revving up to take off. people hold onto the fence beside that little road.
posted by snofoam at 1:10 PM on July 21, 2007


I used to work for a company that builds airplanes, and on rare occasions, I used to get rides in moving base simulators.

And from the cockpit perspective Kai Tak is amazing.

In a cross wind at night?
posted by Relay at 1:12 PM on July 21, 2007


Wow ... at :20 into the first video the landing gear looks like it's barely going to clear the tops of the cars. Nice perspective. In the related videos, there's a cockpit view of another landing where the beach doesn't look nearly as close. Interesting that the plane needs to make a U-turn at the end of the runway to get to the gates.

Also, given the title of this thread I feel the need to link this landing.
posted by hoppytoad at 1:17 PM on July 21, 2007


That was close.
Too close.

Crazy.
posted by The Deej at 1:22 PM on July 21, 2007


New wallpaper...
posted by mdonley at 1:41 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fun for bystanders, but for pilots and passengers, I can't imagine any runway more scary than the old HongKong Kai Tak.

When I was living in Taiwan and making visa runs, I did the Kai Tak landing several times. That's when I knew I wouldn't mind dying, because I felt more exhilarated than scared.

"Hey, you, in the penthouse apartment! Get off the roof! We got a 747 to land!"
posted by jiawen at 1:52 PM on July 21, 2007


Heh, this place is a mile away from my house. It's fun to stand behind the plane when it takes off, except the sand stings...
posted by c13 at 2:51 PM on July 21, 2007


[lloyd_bridges] Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue. [/lloyd_bridges]
posted by ilsa at 3:11 PM on July 21, 2007


Why would anyone stay at that hotel.
posted by wfc123 at 3:11 PM on July 21, 2007


This is unnatural, wrong, and why YouTube should be taken off the 'net. Also, Dutch pilot people? ARE YOU NUTS????????
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:14 PM on July 21, 2007


Here is a crazy 747 landing at Kai Tak, Hong Kong's now-decommissioned airport mentioned above. The pilot really should have gone around, but apparently thought only sissies do that sort of thing.
posted by exogenous at 3:44 PM on July 21, 2007


holy shit that was crazy exogenous.
posted by andywolf at 4:01 PM on July 21, 2007


I can't imagine any runway more scary than the old HongKong Kai Tak.

Kai Tak was awesome, but looking out the window into people's flats was somewhat disconcerting.

I must say that I love Chek Lap Kok -- without a doubt the best airport in the world, bar none.
posted by bwg at 4:33 PM on July 21, 2007


I had St Maartens briefly confused with the incident at Tenerife, which I think remains the worst civil aviation disaster.
posted by mattoxic at 6:03 PM on July 21, 2007


I must say that I love Chek Lap Kok -- without a doubt the best airport in the world, bar none.

What about Changi? It has a pool.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:08 PM on July 21, 2007


The thing is, runways at or near sea level can be shorter than runways at higher altitudes (such as Congonhas in Sao Paulo, which is 800 metres/ca. 2600 feet ASL). Aircraft stop a little quicker at sea level, but more importantly they need much less room to take off and go around after rejecting a landing. Trying to TOGA on a short runway at a high altitude in rain is almost a recipe for disaster.

There's a reason why some of the longest runways in the world (excluding shuttle landing sites) are in La Paz, Denver, Calgary, and other high-altitude cities.
posted by watsondog at 6:27 PM on July 21, 2007


Oh, and the Caribbean airports may have the shortest runways in use for certain categories of aircraft, but they're far from the shortest commercial runways. There are little runways around everywhere under 3,000 feet that are frequently used for small commercial operations, even small jet operations.
posted by watsondog at 6:29 PM on July 21, 2007


Awesome post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:13 PM on July 21, 2007


I concur. Awesome.
posted by madh at 7:19 PM on July 21, 2007


I spent an entire afternoon there taking pictures and watching big planes land from the bar. A landing 747 blew a woman's bikini top off if that gives any idea of what it's like right under the big ones when they come down.
posted by true at 8:06 PM on July 21, 2007


Watsondog that is very interesting.

I live in Wellington, NewZealand, but my family home is Queenstown, it is touted as an Alpine paradise and is one hell of an airport to get into and out of (from a passenger's point of view).

I did some googling.

Queenstown is at 6k ft, both Calgary and Denver are above 12k - wow.

Having said that Wellington is windy, and I am a flying wimp

(I fright from the southerly blowing the plane about when still on the gate).
posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:25 PM on July 21, 2007


the two suposedly shortest runways on the planet are...

The two shortest at controlled airports? With towers? Cause if it's just runways, well people have their own, you know, and they're often just big enough to accomodate their little piper cherokee or, hell, twin otter, and that's it.
posted by dreamsign at 8:29 PM on July 21, 2007


Denver International Airport (DEN) is at 5,333 feet elevation; most of the runways are 12,000 feet long.

Leh (ILX) in India is at an altitude of 10,682 feet, and the runway is about 10,000 feet long. The runway slopes up the side of the valley, and planes land uphill and take off downhill because of the thin air.
posted by carter at 8:59 PM on July 21, 2007


Oops, Leh should be IXL. Here's a photo from Flickr. They can land 737s there.
posted by carter at 9:04 PM on July 21, 2007


Lhasa is meant to be one hell of a landing, the plane doesn't need to descend, just pulls into the driveway- daddy's home styles
posted by mattoxic at 9:11 PM on July 21, 2007


Seeing this float by made me wonder how St. Martins' compares to the Congonhas runway where that Brazilian domestic flight slid off the runway earlier this month. A blogger has a handy comparison series but presents the data in feet and leaves St. Martins' strip off the list. He reports that the Brazilian landing strip is 6362 feet long, or just under 1940 meters, over 200 meters shorter than St. Martins.

You can't just compare runways, you must also compare planes. A fully loaded 747 can top 400,000 kg. An A320, like the one that crashed at Congonhas, is at most half that heavy. The February ban on heavy jets specifically named several in the same weight range as the Airbus, such as the 737-700, suggesting that 747s are not flown to Congonhas to begin with (I couldn't find any evidence that they were, nor evidence that the airport was not rated for them, but I don't know everywhere to look).
posted by dhartung at 10:45 PM on July 21, 2007


dreamsign, there are many controlled airports with towers, at least in Britain and North America, with much shorter runways. Airports usually get towers based on how busy they are, not how long the runways are or how many commercial passenger aircraft depart and land. Some airports near popular flight schools have much shorter runways than St. Maartens, etc. but they still have towers open 18 to 24 hours a day.
posted by watsondog at 10:56 PM on July 21, 2007


Writing as a person who has to get utterly smashed in order to get on an airplane, I actually found that first clip oddly comforting.
posted by phaedon at 7:56 AM on July 22, 2007


true writes "A landing 747 blew a woman's bikini top off if that gives any idea of what it's like right under the big ones when they come down."

The pilot of the plane? Benny Hill.
posted by brundlefly at 12:42 PM on July 22, 2007


Dude: Courchevel. Not only is it a crazy uphill landing, downhill takeoff you've got the added bonus that its surrounded by ski resorts so if you're going to beef, its going to be really well appreciated.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:47 PM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, Courchevel is super crazy. It's only 1760 ft long and the end of the runway is like a BMX ramp.
posted by exogenous at 6:34 AM on July 24, 2007


Crazy.
posted by Ø at 2:30 AM on August 1, 2007


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