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Heartbreaking footage of a Wizz Air passenger plane flying just meters above tourists’ heads showed just how close thrill-seeking plane spotters are willing to get to the action.
The footage was uploaded last week and was captured by a fighter jet positioned to watch planes land on the Greek island of Skiathos, which has become a popular destination for plane spotters.
The runway of Skiathos Airport is only a mile long and built meters from the sea. Skiathos Airport’s runway is particularly short, meaning pilots have to land much lower than on other runways.
But even the seasoned plane spotters seemed shocked as the Airbus jet flew toward the tarmac and narrowly passed the airport perimeter fence, even pushing some onlookers back.
Skiathos isn’t the only destination for plane spotters looking to experience the thrill of getting close to the underside of a large passenger plane as it lands. The Greek airport is also referred to as the European Saint Martin – an island in the Caribbean that is also famous for its huge low-landing planes.
Arrecife Airport in Lanzarote – another runway on the island – is another popular spot. Meanwhile, authorities in Thailand have even warned tourists that they will face severe penalties for taking selfies while planes land at Phuket International Airport, saying it could be a distraction for pilots.
Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport
The video of Wizz Air’s landing opens by showing the plane in the distance flying over the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean towards Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport.
Several people are said to have gathered on the beach and on a road that runs along a narrow stretch of land between the sea and the airstrip. However, as the Wizz Air-operated Airbus A321neo approaches, it is clear that the pilot is bringing it in at a low altitude. A spectator even begins to move out of the way in anticipation of a low landing.
As it barely makes it over the fence, it’s so low that it kicks the dust and sand into the air and tangles a man’s hair seen in the footage. Even a girl is knocked back.
Heartbreaking footage (pictured) of a Wizz Air passenger plane flying just meters above tourists’ heads showed just how close thrill-seeking plane spotters are willing to get to the action
The airport runway measures 1,628 meters and therefore falls into the category of ‘short and narrow’ runways. The short runway runs north-south and coast-to-throw, meaning pilots must approach as low as possible to have enough runway to land on and come to a stop.
Watching the planes from the end of the runway is not without risks. Last month, a 61-year-old British woman was thrown back as she and a group of tourists gathered to watch a plane take off.
Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten
Skiathos’ has been referred to as the European Saint Martin – an island in the Caribbean that is also famous for its lowland planes – with numerous videos landing huge Boeing 747 passenger planes on the runway.
Like Skiathos, the Caribbean airport has a short runway – of just 2.3 miles – requiring aircraft to approach at low altitudes. Spectators will often gather at the island’s Maho Beach, a stretch of golden sand that separates the airport runway and the beautiful blue Caribbean sea.
Skiathos is also referred to as the European Sint Maarten – an island in the Caribbean that is also famous for its low-landing planes (pictured). Plane spotting is a popular activity at Princess Juliana International Airport, but it can also be dangerous. In 2017, a woman was thrown to death after a low-flying plane blew her off her feet
But while plane spotting is a popular activity at Princess Juliana International Airport on the island, it can also be dangerous. In 2017, a woman was thrown to death after a low-flying plane blew her off her feet on takeoff.
The New Zealand woman held on to the fence when she was blown off her feet before hitting her head on the rocks and sustaining fatal injuries.
Tourists visiting the picturesque beach regularly climb rocks to watch planes land, despite signs specifically warning of the danger.
The police on Dutch territory make daily visits to the beach to warn tourists about the dangers. The airport was previously named one of the world’s most dangerous by the History Channel program Most Extreme Airports.
Phuket International Airport, Thailand
Tourists are also known to gather at Phuket International Airport in Thailand.
As with the others, Phuket’s airstrip is only separated from the ocean by a picturesque beach, meaning people often gather on the golden sands or stand in the ocean to watch planes fly overhead.
Photos of the beach show that tourists often pretend to be jets flying to land, taking spectacular shots of the undersides of passenger planes in the island’s beautiful surroundings.
In 2019, however, Thai aviation authorities threatened tourists with the death penalty for taking selfies on the beach next to Phuket airport, saying it risked distracting pilots landing.
They said the penalty was in line with other violations, such as shining laser pointers at planes when they land, which could impair a pilot’s vision.
Pictured: People gather on a beach to watch a lowland plane in Phuket, Thailand
Arrecife Airport, Lanzarote
Another airport known for its low landings is Arrecife Airport on the Spanish Canary Island of Lanzarote.
Similar to Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport and Saint Martin’s Princess Juliana International Airport, Arrecife is built close to the ocean, with the end of the runway almost touching the ocean.
Tourists often gather on the rocks by the beach – Playa Honda – and next to the road passing by, taking photos as passenger planes approach.
While pilots don’t typically lower their planes as low as in Skiathos and Saint Martin, the airport still offers enthusiasts the opportunity to get right under the jets as they land and take off over the ocean.
Pictured: People take selfies as a plane lands at Arrecife Airport on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, July 2022
The popularity of aircraft spotting emerged in Britain in early 2022 when live streaming platform Big Jet TV captured passenger planes landing at London’s Heathrow Airport in gusty winds during storm Eunice.
Jerry Dyer’s Big Jet TV had more than 200,000 viewers who spent more than six hours watching gut-wrenching footage of planes landing nearly sideways at Britain’s busiest airport in gusts of 120 miles per hour.
In one shocking clip, a plane nearly capsized after making its approach in strong winds, forcing the ‘touch and go’ stunt, meaning the pilot had to take off again and reapproach for a second attempt. Witnesses claim that paint could have come off the tail of the plane when it hit the ground during the shaky landing attempt.
Another airport known for its precarious landings is the Tenzing Hillary Airport in Nepal. The runway is built close to the edge of a cliff, meaning pilots have no room for landing errors.
Shaved up: This is the shocking moment a pilot struggled to land a British Airways plane at London’s Heathrow airport during a storm in February, with gusts of up to 152 km/h.
Only small planes can land and take off from the airport, and pilots must have at least one year of experience and fly 100 missions with STOL (short take off and landing) aircraft.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport has also received a lot of attention over the years – mainly for changing its name in honor of the footballing megastar – but also for having one of the most hair-raising runways in the world.
Pilots must battle the island’s high winds and land on a narrow runway supported by 180 columns, 190 feet above sea level. The runway itself also radiates out over the ocean.
Gibraltar Airport in the northeast also has a nerve-wracking feature. The runway is built into the sea and across the width of the British Overseas Territory, with a public road running through the middle. Similar to a level crossing on a railway, the road must be closed when a plan lands or takes off from the airport.
Another airport known for its precarious landings is the Tenzing Hillary Airport in Nepal (pictured). The runway is built close to the edge of a cliff, meaning pilots have no room for landing errors