Tales from Kai Tak

(radio documentary at the bottom of this post)

Kai Tak Airport is world renowned for it’s unpredictable weather and unconventional approach into the airports runway 13. The approach consisted of bringing the aircraft low over the skyscrapers of Western Kowloon, directly towards a hill where a red and white chequered board was used as a visual aid to know when to make the 47 degree turn to line up for short final on runway 13. The final turn was usually made at less than 1000 feet and at wings level the pilots were usually around 2 nautical miles away from touch down meaning that they had to be quick to stabilise the aircraft on the approach to make a good landing.

This approach was the main reason so many pilots fell in love with Kai Tak, no other airport in the world was like it and for that reason every pilot had to undergo special training to ensure their skills were up to the task of getting an aircraft into it safely. Many pilots saw it as a personal challenge to prove their ability and welcomed the challenges that the airport presented.

The closure of the airport was a sad day for many pilots and non pilots alike and to commemorate its many years of operation Radio Clyde had a radio documentary produced about the legendary airport. It was made available to the aviation community in 2007, I’ve only recently rediscovered it and felt compelled to post about it on here so many others can enjoy it. It contains many accounts from airline pilots around the world about their time flying into and out of the airport and for me, makes for a very interesting listen.

Here’s the link to the radio documentary – http://dl.dropbox.com/u/25622044/Tales%20from%20Kai%20Tak.mp3%20%281%29.mp3

Here’s a video containing a compilation of landings at Kai Tak.

Here’s a cockpit video of an approach and landing into Kai Tak.

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