Boeing 747 performing intricate landing with series of complex maneuvers

  • Nail-biting footage shows a Boeing 747 performing intricate maneuvers as it pulls in to land
  • The clip was shot at the famed Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong, which has since closed down 
  • The airport was known as one of the most difficult in the world 

Published on Jun 17, 2024 at 1:46 PM (UTC+4)
by Claire Reid

Last updated on Jul 12, 2024 at 7:43 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

Incredible footage shows a Boeing 747 performing intricate maneuvers as it attempts a tricky landing at a ‘totally unique’ airport. 

In a video shared online, the pilot of the Boeing can be seen performing a series of complex maneuvers as he prepares to land at the now-closed Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong. 

The nail-biting clip, believed to be filmed in 1998, shows the Boeing flying low and tipping its wing, before straightening out as it comes in for a perfect land on the runway at Kai Tak.

READ MORE! Boeing 747 ‘says goodbye’ during takeoff as pilot performs breathtaking ‘wing wave’

Boeing pilot forced to do a 45-degree turn

Kai Tak opened up all the way back in 1925 and served as a hub for Hong Kong’s international carrier Cathay Pacific, as well as regional carrier Dragonair.

The airport had a ‘unique’ runway, which was regarded as one of the most difficult in the world. 

Kai Tak was sat in the middle of the Kowloon City and its runway protruded out into the sea.

As you can see from the clip, the pilot is forced to pull off some pretty interesting twists and turns to ensure a safe landing. 

Former Cathay Pacific Airways’ general manager of operations and now-pilot instructor Russell Davie told CNN in 2023: “As a pilot, it was totally unique.

“It was the only major airport in the world that required a 45-degree turn below 500 feet to line up with the runway, literally flying between the high-rise buildings, passing close to the famous orange and white Checkerboard Hill (also known as Kowloon Tsai Hill) as you made that final turn toward the runway.”

Runway 13 at Kai Tak was known to be a ‘challenge’

Pilots coming into Runway 13 had to make a special turn over Kowloon City, due to a hill known as Lion Rock – something Davie admits was a ‘challenge’. 

“This was quite a challenge, especially in strong wind conditions,” Davie told the publication. 

“As Cathay pilots, we had plenty of practice and became very adept at flying the approach.

“The approach was quite a challenge for pilots from other airlines, especially in more demanding flying conditions, as they might only come to Kai Tak once a year.”

Pilots are trained to handle adverse weather conditions and are capable of somewhat amazing maneuvers – such as the pilot of this Airbus A380 who had to pull off a sideways, ‘crab landing’ at London’s Heathrow during stormy conditions. 

But after 75 years of testing pilots’ mettle, Kai Tak closed for good in 1998 – with its last scheduled commercial flight a Cathay Pacific CCX251 to London, Heathrow, which set off from Runway 13.

To mark the closure of the airport, Richard Siegel, then-director of civil aviation, gave a brief speech ending with the words: “Goodbye Kai Tak, and thank you.” 

The airport was replaced with the much more modern Hong Kong International Airport, which opened the same year and has a much simpler runway.


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Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist who hails from the UK but is now living in New Zealand. She began her career after graduating with a degree in Journalism from Liverpool John Moore’s University and has more than a decade of experience, writing for both local newspapers and national news sites. Across her career she's covered a wide variety of topics, including celebrity, cryptocurrency, politics, true crime and just about everything in between.