Friday, March 19, 2010

Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong

Watch this great video about the Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong.

For any of you who ever lived in or visited Hong Kong before 1997 and were fortunate to land at the old Kai Tak Airport you will love this. For any of you who missed this experience you may still get an idea of what a high skill level pilots needed to land a large plane on a narrow strip of land that ran out into the Hong Kong harbor. Often we joked that we could look in the window of apartment 39 B and see what they were having for their supper upon our approach. Someone did a fantastic job of compiling different shots of many flights at various times of the day. Good memories.

This approach was my introduction to commercial aviation. I was based in Hong Kong with Pan Am on the DC-6 from 1966 to 1968. We did not have the modern approach aids pictured on the approach plate but we followed approximately the same route. We flew a heading off of the Cheung Chow NDB (non-directional beacon) and descended to our minimum altitude, 1000 feet. If we were lucky we would see the spotlighted checkerboard painted on an 800 foot cliff directly ahead. We watched the runway out of the copilot's side window (and the checkerboard ahead) to know when to initiate our turn to final approach. Once the turn was started, we could no longer see the runway until we rolled out on the runway heading. This explains the undershoots and overshoots you will see in this short film. It really was an adventure. A short time after we left Hong Kong, JAL landed long and put a Convair 880 into the water off the end of this runway.

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