HONG KONG 

DM

With a perilous runway that jut out into the sea, and a descent through skyscrapers and craggy mountains, Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong was seen as the ultimate test of a pilot’s skills.

The airport- which was shut down in 1998- was the site of botched landings that included planes crashing into the water and clipping buildings on their descent.

These spectacular images show the moment experienced pilots grappled with the notoriously dangerous landing, before the ariport was closed by the government in 1998 for its poor safety record. The action shots were taken between 1992 and 1998 by English teacher Daryl Scott Chapman, 41, who has lived in Hong Kong since he was 16.  The dramatic images show planes land on the 11,000 foot-long runway against the dramatic backdrop of the densely-populated city.

The Kai Tak landing required special training as pilots had to take a challenging last-minute manual turn known as a ‘Hong Kong Turn’ after they saw a checkerboard reference point above Kowloon Tsai Park. The alarmingly steep descent over the harbour and crowded high-rise tower blocks meant Kai Tak was hailed as the sixth most dangerous airport in the world.  Kai Tak was Hong Kong’s main airport until 1998. It had suffered a shocking 12 air disasters with 270 people killed during this time - yet was handling nearly 30 million passengers per-year by 1996.

The deadliest incident was a US Marines Hercules flight which plunged into the harbour shortly after take-off in 1965, killing 59 passengers.

24 passengers were killed during a typhoon landing in 1967 and, in 1993, a Boeing 747 overran the runway during a typhoon.

The site of those dramatic flights has now been repurposed as the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, for crusie liners.