Monthly Archives: July 2009

Alitalia MD-11 hard landing at Kai Tak

In the previous post about Kai Tak (“Kai Tak thrilling approach”) I explained how particular and somehow dangerous an approach to RWY 13 in Hong Kong Kai Tak International Airport could be. Today, I was notified about a cockpit video showing an approach to the former HK airport with a flare in crosswind conditions that bring the aircraft in a dangerous attitude before touch down (the pilot screams “Piano” at 03:45, more or leass with the Italian meaning for “gently”) at 10 feet that causes a bank angle warning message (3:47). Interestingly, the video does not show the famous IGS approach plus visual approach to RWY 13 but an easier approach to RWY31……

Kai Tak thrilling approach

Once the third busiest airport of the world, the Kai Tak International Airport was the international airport of Hong Kong from 1925 until Jul. 6, 1998 when it was replaced by the Chek Lap Kok. The airport was the homebase of the famous Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific and was served by many wide bodies belonging to regional, freight and large airlines whose plane landed on runway 13/31 overflying Kowloon skyscrapers and buildings and avoiding the surrounding mountains. Kai Tak was and still is one of the airports most loved by aircraft spotters because of the breathtaking approaches that had to be followed by the arriving aircraft that had to land on the only runway. The world famous approach to RWY 13 brought the aircraft in a descending path above Western Kowloon and the extremely densely populated building around the harbour. The airplanes flew the first part of the approach with the help of an Instrument Guidance System (IGS), a modified ILS. Then, upon reaching the middle marker of the IGS, the approach was no longer instrumental and the pilot with the visual reference provided by the small hill sporting the famous checkerboard in red and white, had to begin a right visual turn (“Hong Kong turn”) to establish. The turn began at a height of about 200 meters and ended at around 45 meters, even if as pictures show, some 747s or MD11s, began and ended the procedure at lower altitudes. Some aircraft did not have the time to line up and almost hit the runway still performing the 47° bank turn, especially when crosswinds required crabbing and decrabbing of the aircraft before touch down. As the prevailing wind direction in Hong Kong was more or less in the N-S direction, this thrilling approach was used most of time at Kai Tak.
The following youtube videos are just samples of what you can find on the Internet.

The following pictures were taken by Giovanni Maduli in November 1993.

High Blaze: Dutch Cougars and Chinooks at Frosinone

As explained in a previous post, Dutch military helicopters have been deploying to Frosinone, Italy, homebase of the 72° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) to conduct training activities in the mountainous areas located around the Italian airport. Tactical low level flights are needed to keep the currencies required to be employed in Afghanistan. Following the AH-64D Apache that visited Frosinone at the beginning of April, 3 CH-47 Chinook of 298 Sqn and 3 AS535U2 Cougar of the 300 Sqn of the KLu (Koninklijke Luchtmacht, the Royal Netherlands Air Force) deployed to the Italian airbase during the first two weeks of June during the operation named “High Blaze” that involved 90 military. The CH-47 performed, on average, 2 daily missions lasting around 3.5 FH (Fligh Hours) while the AS535U2 performed 3 daily 2 FH missions. As usual, when deployed to Frosinone, the Dutch detachment is autonomous; the 72° Stormo provides only the logistic support (food, fire-fighting, ATC services, and Force Protection).

On Jun. 11, Giovanni Maduli was given the possibility to visit the Dutch detachment and take the following pictures.

Preserved aircraft at the Museo Storico Aeroporto Cameri

After publishing the article about the preserved aircraft found at Istrana airbase by Matteo Marianeschi (, I was contacted by Simone Bovi who told me he had taken some picture of another interesting collection of preserved aircraft: the ones exhibited at the Cameri airport. The following pictures show some of the aircraft of the Museo Storico Aeroporto Cameri.

More G8 summit-related traffic in Rome

The following pictures were taken in the morning of Jul. 11, 2009, by Giovanni Maduli, who went again to Urbe airport to see the departure of the US Army CH-47s that escorted the “Marine One” VH-60N helicopters carrying the POTUS Obama during its visit in Rome and L’Aquila for the G8 summit. Noteworthy, the CH-47 “89-0143” sports a skull with cross bones badge underneath the fuselage (enlarged pic). A C-17 overflying Urbe airport during landing procedure at Rome Ciampino airport was also photographed: two Globemasters were scheduled to arrive in Ciampino on Jul. 11 to carry equipment used by the POTUS and his staff during official visits.