In the first three months of this year, nearly 29 million flights took off and landed at 1,097 airports around the world. That’s the highest number since the first quarter of 2012 and an increase of 7.8 percent from the same period in 2016.
It’s in this busy period that powerful extreme gravity-defying—and gravity-compromising—landings occur with regularity. Every morning since last March, it seems, a pilot has landed a jetliner on a remote strip in a different country. From Siberia to Iran, Bangladesh to Ecuador, and El Salvador to Germany, these flyers have bravely pulled off the incredible feat of relaying the enormous weight of a Boeing 737+ screaming down a breathtakingly steep airstrip, super-speed, while their wings fold to stop the plane tipping over. We’ve rounded up some of the most spectacular of these Daring Plane Landings.
When Ken Kamiuk, a 44-year-old pilot, landed a small plane on the “Smallest Airport on Earth,” after it developed a fuel problem, a little girl raced toward him. The landing was so impressive, Kamiuk reported that people in the stands wanted to get right up to him to give him a big kiss. Only then did he start to roll down the runway, in circles, just like a passenger train on ice, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Basileus Cristodolus, Greece
Eighty-two-year-old Carlos Falcioni landed his jet plane on the island of Zakynthos on the Aegean Sea in a private plane, plunging it 800 feet into the air. However, the helicopter winch on his plane soon failed, and Falcioni landed by ascending through the air with his feet just centimeters above the tarmac.
This photo was taken in 1997 of Huibal Chicon, an Argentinian pilot, doing a vertical flyover of Arequipa on the Andes Mountains. The landing lifted the plane about 7 feet from the ground and then lit it up like an out-of-control wildfire. It was just over 11 minutes from landing, but Chicon glided across some 6,400 feet of pavement for a few seconds and then landed back in his wingspan, ending his daredevil flight at 3,700 feet.
In 2010, Iran’s Avroquiru Airport hosted the Daring Plane Landing Competition. Participants started the flight from Turkey’s Iskenderun airport at over 19,000 feet, 200 miles from Tehran, then dropped into water 100 feet below before 1,000 feet above Iskenderun.
Meanwhile, Passi Antiparas, Turkey
In 2009, Passi Antiparas hosted the competition, where the winning plane for the first ever event was the Airbus A300 Skyrock. The competition ended with seven planes landing in 17 minutes, although those weren’t the only daring ones: Two other planes, American Airlines Flight 1031 and Asiana Flight 214, also attempted incredible but horrifying touchdowns.