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Home > Airports > Why the landing was as crazy as it was in Kai Tak Airport Hong Kong?
Why the landing was as crazy as it was in Kai Tak Airport Hong Kong?
Aviation - Airports
Wednesday, 08 February 2006 02:27

Hi Captain Lim,

I*m very curious as to why the landing was as crazy as it was at Kai Tak. Why not a direct approach? Is it the mountains or tall buildings? Also, I*m curious on how you execute the landing: a lot of rudder, or banking more than any pilot ever should use on a Boeing 777 or 747?

And finally, while you were at pilot school, have you ever had that feeling that there were just way too much to learn, too many rules of thumb, too many variations on everything depending on aircraft, weather, etc., too much complicated stuff like exact angle of flaring, all the gauges, etc.?

Thank you for your time. I*m amazed at how huge your website is.

Yevgeny S. Milanov

Hi Milanov,


Yes, Kai Tak was a challenging airport to land before the new Chap Lap KoK (CLK) in Hong Kong, but I won*t say it was “crazy” to land there unless you were inexperienced and the weather was bad!


Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 Landing at Kai Tak Airport


In the old airport at Kai Tak, it was not possible to come in without a continuous right turn due to high ground on the final approach. So it was always hardwork for the pilot to align on the centerline at the last moment - especially if there were strong cross winds. Yes, you needed some rudder application coupled with the appropriate banking angle (depending on cross wind strength and direction) and a correct rate of descent. Well, today, when I am programmed to fly to Hong Kong, I look forward to more pleasant choices of four straight-in approaches in the new CLK airport!

JAL B747-400 Landing at Kai Tak International Airport


The pilot profession is a job where you never stop learning. Even if you were approaching 60 years, you would still be flying because you have been checked and certified every 6 months to have passed an exam (we called it a Base Check) So there is never a question of having too much to learn, too many rules of thumbs, too much complicated stuffs, etc.

Professional airline pilots are carefully selected, trained and supervised before they are allowed to fly on commercial planes. I believe, there are no group of professionals that has more continuing education than pilots. With such rigorous training, one would never expect pilots to perform “crazy” or daredevil stunts to risk the lives of their passengers.

Whilst I was in the pilot school, there was never a feeling inside me to fear that the job would be a formidable one; otherwise I would have lost the passion for the job.

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