Pilot's view of landing in New Zealand


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/28/pilots-view-of-landing-in-ne.html


You have a slightly different definition of “relaxing” than me. Going down into that cloud deck with mountains all around would definitely turn my pucker factor up to 11, no matter how much I trusted my avionics.

Also, this video is definitely speeded up. It’s very obvious when the pilot lines up with the runway,


This is Queenstown airport, judging from that view at the end. It’s the only major airport (fourth-busiest or so in NZ) in the country that’s in an alpine/subalpine area. Resort town that became rather popular + a bolt-hole for the super-rich + a speculative property market + it’s a hub for tourist scenic flights. So rather insane growth meaning the airport grew from a small mountain airport…into a slightly larger mountain airport with a lot of planes going in and out. They’ve had to invest quite a lot into navigation aids to keep it safe but it’s known (or was, during my brief time in the aviation community years ago) as a challenging airport to fly into, particularly for GA.


It appears to be the Queenstown (NZQN) RNAV Y RWY 05 approach. Tight tolerances on required navigation accuracy and highish minimums… the missed approach procedure is an interesting left hand 270 degree climbing turn and south over the river.

Too bad it’s sped up. There are other youtube videos without clouds. Search youtube for
“queenstown approach”

Spectacular for sure. I need to visit NZ someday.



“relaxing” is relative.

I’m pretty sure almost any landing would be relaxing compared to something like the old approach to Hong Kong.


Love me some VASI lights. White-and-white outta sight, red-and-white alright, red-and-red you’re dead.


On a clear day you can see all the way to Youshallnot Pass.


Fine, so long as you don’t pick a day when the dwarves are practicing with their Twirly Whirlies


That road at the end of the runway would be in the clear zone of most US airfields. Surprised they don’t stop traffic for landings.


There are additional safety and redundancy requirements to fly into Queenstown. I was on an Auckland to Queenstown flight earlier this year. We sat on the ground in Auckland for 15 minutes after boarding before the pilot announced that we had to change planes. Apparently one of the two flight computers wouldn’t boot. He said that they could fly anywhere in NZ with one computer, except Queenstown.


This is a video I made some years ago of a light aircraft landing at Milford Sound. An earlier flight which I missed increased engine thrust for a moment while flying close to the rock wall you see at the start. The resulting sound was quite impressive.

Edit: when working in Christchurch my dad (who has an Australian pilots’s license) wanted to make this landing, but obviously you need a special certification to fly into this airstrip. So he paid a local flying instructor for a lesson, and did the landing under supervision.


It’s New Zealand, ACC insurance has it covered.


Though I don’t really understand the geometry of Kai Tak. The runway is on reclaimed land in Kowloon which sticks out into the harbour. If they turned the runway 90 degrees, it could have run along the harbour, and aircraft trajectories would have been much less hairy.


That would be Queenstown, NZ and landing from the other direction is even scarier. It’s intense.


This is exactly why it’s important for passengers to stock up on mini liquor bottles early on.


I played a game of pool in Milford sound with a pilot who said something similar. I don’t remember him mentioning a special license but he did explain that due to the steep and narrow valleys the margin of error is very tight. Most planes have a minimum turning circle that’s too wide to make the approach, and even in a viable aircraft if you misjudge you’re going to eat mountain.

Not really on topic but since you mention it I’d just like to say that Milford Sound at sunset is the most beautiful thing I think I’ve ever seen.

The OP video is of Queenstown NZ, like @Song says. Nice place but kinda touristy and expensive. The first season of Top of the Lake is set there, if anyone wants to see more of it.

Almost any, but it might be beaten by Wellington NZ on a windy day (which is to say, every day). I’ve heard that pilots come from around the world to learn how to land and take off under adverse conditions since the weather there is so consistently bad.



This video was mentioned the other day on NZ online news - yes, its flying into Queenstown. This video from 2013 looks to be the original.


Yes Wellington can be very hairy, before they had airbridges I once landed in a 737, and we were stuck in the plane on the ground because the wind was considered too strong for us to go down the stairs.

I also was once landing there from the north in a smaller commuter plane, as we came over the road just before the runway there was a gust of wind and the plane stopped, it was still going down but not making any headway, cars going by under us, the pilot revved up the engines to get us onto the end on the runway …


Its always a problem when it looks like you won’t even make it to the site of the crash.