Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong
Kai Tak Airport was so dangerous that it was closed down in 1998 to avoid more accidents. In its time, it was famous among pilots for having a difficult and dangerous approach.
One of the multiple dangers at Kai Tak was the lack of a ‘bailout’ area. At most airports, pilots have their last chance to abandon their descent at around 500ft to go back around and make a second attempt. But at Kai Tak, pilots couldn’t even level their wings until about 300ft, meaning landings there were risky and near impossible to save once they went wrong.
During its 63 years in operation, Kai Tak saw a staggering 14 major aviation incidents. The deadliest incident was in 1965, when an American military aircraft struck a sea wall shortly after liftoff. It crashed into the water, resulting in 71 fatalities. Then in 1993, the airport’s most infamous accident occurred when a commercial flight overran the runway while attempting to land in gale-force winds. Even though the approach was unstable, the pilot couldn’t make a second attempt. The plane skidded across the runway and ended up submerged in the waters of Hong Kong’s harbor.
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