Last year I wrote at length about some of the less-talked-about traumas of flying, i.e. things probably worse than delayed or lost luggage. For instance, the sheer horror of what was formerly Hong Kong's Kai Tak International Airport, its runway built out on the water due to land shortage. Up until its closing in 2000, arriving 747s had to make a sharp right turn before hitting a delibately-checkerboarded mountainside, then drop like a dead weight onto a fastly approaching runway, while still turning and missing a ton of high rise buildings. Thanks to the glory of You Tube, and a recent personal hell flight from Texas, I decided to update that post and show this (660K mpeg) clip of what streetgoers got to witness in the heyday of Kai Tak. Several people have written to me since that old post and declared that they literally were eye level with people hanging laundry on their rooftops while making their hectic descent into that place.
Even more harrowing is the airport on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, where a thin strip of beachfront, open to sunbathers and swimmers, lies only yards from the touchdown point of major international flights. This montage (5.8M mpeg) chronicles a beach-eye view of assorted arrivals; stay with it, the planes get bigger and bigger, and at one point while a large Air France jet spools up for take-off, some spectators (clearly having enjoyed this before) are holding on to the blast fence while their bodies levitate horizontally. Who the hell needs Club Med for island entertainment?
Finally, Ken forwards this great link to a hilarious video of a civilian from the Atlanta Journal Constitution taking a joyride with a Blue Angels F-18 pilot. With camera focused on his position in the backseat, the dude acts all tough, until of course he gets blasted vertically to 7,000 feet in two seconds and rolled like a zeppoli through sugar at the San Genarro. There are a few individual videos, the best one is #2 where he keeps passing out and then waking up to say what a great time he's having. He finally asks about the barf bag in #4.