Stunning footage of a Wizz Air passenger jet hovering just meters above tourists’ heads showed just how close up adventurous plane spotters are willing to get to the action.
Footage uploaded last week was captured by a jet enthusiast positioned to watch planes landing on the Greek island of Skiathos, which has become a popular destination for plane spotters.
Skiathos airport’s runway is particularly short at just a mile long and built meters from the sea, meaning pilots have to land much lower than they would on other runways.
But even the seasoned plane spotters seemed shocked as the Airbus jet sped toward the tarmac and flew just over the airport perimeter fence, even throwing some spectators backwards in the process.
Skiathos isn’t the only destination for planespotters looking to experience the thrill of getting close to the underside of a large passenger plane as it lands. Greece Airport is also known as the European Saint Martin – an island in the Caribbean also famous for its giant low-landing aircraft.
Lanzarote’s Arrecife Airport – another of the island’s airstrips – is another popular spot. Meanwhile, Thai authorities have even warned tourists that taking selfies when planes land at Phuket International Airport will be severely fined, saying it can be a distraction for pilots.
Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport
Wizz Air’s landing video begins with the plane flying in the distance over the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea to Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport.
Several people are shown to have gathered on the beach and a road that runs on a narrow piece of land between the sea and the airstrip. However, as the Airbus A321neo operated by Wizz Air approaches, it is clear that the pilot is allowing it to fly in at low altitude. A spectator even begins to move out of the way in anticipation of a low landing.
As it narrowly passes the perimeter fence, it’s so low that it kicks up dust and sand and ruffles the hair of a man who winces at the footage. A girl is even pushed backwards.
Stunning footage (pictured) of a Wizz Air passenger jet hovering just a few meters above tourists’ heads showed how close adventurous plane spotters are willing to get close to the action
The airport’s runway is 1,628 meters (5,341 feet) long, putting it in the “short and narrow” runway category. The short runway runs north to south and coast to ejection, meaning pilots need to approach as low as possible to have enough runway to land and stop.
Watching the planes from the end of the runway is not without risks. Last month, a 61-year-old British woman was thrown backwards as she and a group of tourists gathered to watch a plane take off.
Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Martin
Skiathos has also been dubbed Europe’s Saint Martin – an island in the Caribbean also famous for its low-landing aircraft – with numerous videos showing giant Boeing 747 passenger jets landing on the runway.
Like Skiathos, the Caribbean airport has a short runway — just 1.4 miles — forcing planes to approach at low altitude. Spectators often congregate at the island’s Maho Beach, a golden sand beach that separates the airport runway from the stunning blue Caribbean Sea.
Skiathos has also been dubbed Europe’s St Maarten – an island in the Caribbean also famous for its low-landing aircraft (pictured). Plane spotting is a popular activity at the island’s Princess Juliana International Airport, but it can also be dangerous. In 2017, a woman was flung to her death after a low-flying aircraft knocked her off her feet
But while plane-spotting is a popular activity at the island’s Princess Juliana International Airport, it can also be dangerous. In 2017, a woman was flung to her death after a low-flying aircraft knocked her off her feet during takeoff.
The New Zealander was holding on to the fence when she was knocked off her feet before hitting her head on the rocks and suffering fatal injuries.
Tourists visiting the scenic beach regularly climb rocks to watch planes land, despite signs specifically warning of the danger.
Police on Dutch territory make daily visits to the beach to warn tourists of the dangers. The airport was previously named one of the most dangerous in the world by the History Channel program Most Extreme Airports.
Phuket International Airport, Thailand
Tourists have also been known to gather at Phuket International Airport in Thailand.
As with the others, Phuket’s airstrip is only separated from the sea by a scenic beach, meaning people often congregate on the golden sands or stand in the sea to watch planes fly overhead.
Photos from the beach show how tourists often pose as jets climb out for landings and capture spectacular shots from the underside of passenger planes against the stunning island backdrop.
In 2019, however, Thai aviation authorities threatened tourists with the death penalty if they took selfies on the beach next to Phuket Airport, saying it risked distracting pilots coming in to land.
They said the punishment is consistent with other offences, such as shining laser pointers on planes as they land, which risks obscuring a pilot’s vision.
Pictured: People gather on a beach to watch a low-landing plane in Phuket, Thailand
Arrecife Airport, Lanzarote
Another airport known for its low landings is Arrecife Airport on the Spanish Canary Island of Lanzarote.
Like Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport and Saint Martin’s Princess Juliana International Airport, Arrecife was built near the ocean, with the end of the runway almost meeting the ocean.
Tourists often gather on the rocks near the beach – Playa Honda – and next to the road that passes by and take photos as passenger planes approach.
While pilots don’t usually get their planes as low as at Skiathos and Saint Martin, the airport still offers enthusiasts the chance 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 in July 2022
The popularity of plane spotting came to the fore in the UK in early 2022, when live streaming platform Big Jet TV recorded passenger planes landing in high winds at London’s Heathrow Airport during Storm Eunice.
Jerry Dyer’s Big Jet TV had more than 200,000 viewers who spent more than six hours watching stomach-churning footage of planes landing almost sideways at Britain’s busiest airport in gusts of 120mph.
In one shocking clip, a plane nearly rolled over after on-air close in high winds, forcing the “touch and go” stunt, meaning the pilot had to take off again and re-close for a second attempt. Witnesses claim paint dust could come from the tail of the plane as it hit the ground during the shaky attempt to land.
Another airport known for its precarious landings is Tenzing Hillary Airport in Nepal. The runway is built close to the edge of a cliff, meaning pilots have no margin for error when landing.
Close shave: This is the shocking moment when a pilot struggled to land a British Airways plane at Heathrow Airport in London during a storm in February that brought gusts of wind up to 150km/h
Only small aircraft can land and take off at the airport, and pilots are required to have at least one year of experience and 100 missions with STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) aircraft.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport has also garnered a lot of attention over the years – mostly for changing its name in honor of the soccer megastar – but also for having the most hair-raising runways in the world.
Pilots must battle the island’s strong winds and land on a narrow airstrip supported by 180 pillars, 190 feet above sea level. The runway itself also shines out over the ocean.
Gibraltar Airport in the north-east also has a nerve-wracking feature. The runway is built into the sea and across the width of the British Overseas Territory and is crossed by a public road. Like a railroad crossing, the road must be closed when an airplane lands or takes off at the airport.
Another airport notorious for its precarious landings is Tenzing Hillary Airport in Nepal (pictured). The runway is built close to the edge of a cliff, meaning pilots have no margin for error when landing