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Ask the Captain: Most scenic, ?scariest? airports

USA Today  2016-09-12 01:45:33

John Cox, Special for USA TODAY 9:45 p.m. EDT September 11, 2016A plane lands at San Diego International Airport on May 13, 2016.(Photo: Lenny Ignelzi, AP)Question: What was the scariest airport you have ever landed at and why? ? Submitted by reader Ron, New JerseyAnswer: I would not call it scary, but one of most challenging was Bluefield, W-Va. The crosswinds and mountains combined with the short length made it a real challenge on some days. Piedmont operated one of the largest airplanes to use that airport, the YS-11A, requiring precision flying.Another was a small airport in Chicago called Meigs Field that no longer exists. It took skill and concentration to land there on a windy, snowy day.Q: Do you have a favorite airport to land and take off? ? Bob Mogus, PittsburghA: There are special things about several airports. A few examples: Landing on runway 13 in LaGuardia from the south provides a spectacular view of Manhattan as you fly up the Hudson River. Flying into Key West with the beautiful clear water and picturesque boats in the harbor was always enjoyable. One of my most vivid memories was departing from Boston Logan and turning out over the shipping channel as the tall ships were sailing.The most beautiful airport was San Francisco; the mountain and the bay combine to make a spectacular sight.I enjoyed many of the airports to which I flew, it is very hard to pick one favorite.Q: What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of landing in San Diego?? Ian, San DiegoA: My favorite is the beauty of the skyline of the city to the left of the airplane when landing to the west. My least favorite is how air traffic control keeps you high during the initial approach, requiring significant planning and effort to get to the right altitude and speed for the landing.Q: Is it much harder to fly into congested airports/airspace like Chicago O'Hare? What do pilots do to coordinate with all the traffic?? Chris, ChicagoA: Any of the high-density airports are challenging. With the large amount of air traffic in the airspace, controller instructions are numerous and precise. All of the traffic has to perform to exacting standards to keep the traffic flow running smoothly. Pilots get a mental picture of airplanes that are around them and the TCAS display shows traffic. The air traffic controllers do the coordination.John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consulting company, Safety Operating Systems.4 CONNECT 2 LINKEDIN EMAILMORERead or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2ch0f4R

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