Everything seems to be going well, the landing of an Airbus A321neo from the Hungarian airline Wizz Air at the airport of the Greek island of Skiathos. Just before reaching the runway, the plane passes over the heads of curious tourists who have lined up in front of the runway. The plane seems to be close to them. A startled man takes another step to the side as the right wing flies over him.
The images of the landing have been massively shared in recent days. It’s supposed to be the “lowest landing ever” at the airport, which has only one runway.
Watch the A321neo landing in Skiathos below:
Plane watching in Skiathos is popular among tourists
This trail stretches from coast to coast. “Just big enough to land medium-sized planes,” says Greek correspondent Thijs Kettenis, who also visited the spot for observers. “So it’s also known as a difficult airport. An Airbus needs the full length of the runway.”
This course starts just behind the waves and has a length of 1628 meters. In comparison: the average length of airports in Europe is 2500 meters, or 1.5 times longer.
Just before the planes land on the tarmac, they are still flying over a highway. It is also the place where tourists and plane spotters gather to watch the show.
This is not the first time that this kind of images come out. “But it remains a spectacular phenomenon of course.”
The Greek island is also called the Saint Martin of Europe because of the low-flying planes. Because on this last island too, tourists gather to spot planes up close.
This is possible at Maho Beach, a beach located just across the runway from Princess Juliana Airport. This track is much longer, about 2300 meters.
Although spectacular, it can also be dangerous for tourists to get so close to the slopes. There have already been accidents on both islands.
The most recent was in Skiathos last month. The draft released when a plane took off was so strong that a British tourist was knocked down. Images of this are by a local news site share. The woman was seriously injured, particularly in the head and shoulder.
Also on Sint Maarten, strong air currents are often released, which can lead to dangerous situations. A few years ago, a New Zealand tourist was even killed. She stood at the fence separating Maho Beach from the runway and was blown away when a plane took off. She hit her head against a concrete block.
This led to a discussion about possible measures Sint Maarten should take to avoid dangerous situations at the airport. For example, it was considered to close the road near the beach.
However, this road is still accessible, as is the beach. The Sint Maarten tourist office presents Maho Beach as “one of the most entertaining places” on the island.
There are warning signs at the gate that separates the road from the airport. It reads “Danger: Airflow from departing and arriving aircraft may cause serious physical injury”.
Just like in Sint Maarten, Skiathos airport is accessible by public road. “You can just stay there. There are no other security measures,” Kettenis says. There are signs, however, also to warn plane spotters of the dangers of drafts.
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