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Passenger jet skims over tourists’ heads in ‘lowest-ever landing’

Heart-stopping video shows Wizz Air passenger jet skimming just yards over tourists’ heads in ‘lowest-ever landing’ at Greek island airport as it’s revealed why the plane is flying so close to beach

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This is the heart-stopping moment a Wizz Air passenger jet skimmed just yards over tourists’ heads as it came in land on a Greek island, in what some said was the lowest-ever landing at the airport. Dramatic footage of the landing was uploaded last week by a jet enthusiast who was positioned to watch planes touch down on Greece ‘s Skiathos island.

The video opens by showing the plane in the distance cruising towards the Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport over the turquoise Mediterranean waters. Several people are shown to have gathered on the beach and a road that runs along a narrow bit of land between the sea and the runway. As the Wizz Air-operated Airbus A321neo approaches, however, it is clear that the pilot is bringing it in at a low altitude.

The video opens by showing the plane in the distance cruising towards the Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport over the turquoise Mediterranean waters. Several people are shown to have gathered on the beach and a road that runs along a narrow bit of land between the sea and the runway. As the Wizz Air-operated Airbus A321neo approaches, however, it is clear that the pilot is bringing it in at a low altitude.

Measuring just a mile in length and built yards from the sea, Skiathos Airport's landing strip is particularly short due to the island's geography, meaning pilots have to come in to land far lower than they would on other runways. But even the seasoned plane spotters appeared shocked as the Airbus jet barreled towards the tarmac and narrowly cleared the airport's perimeter fence.

Measuring just a mile in length and built yards from the sea, Skiathos Airport’s landing strip is particularly short due to the island’s geography, meaning pilots have to come in to land far lower than they would on other runways. But even the seasoned plane spotters appeared shocked as the Airbus jet barreled towards the tarmac and narrowly cleared the airport’s perimeter fence.

One onlooker even begins to move out of the way in anticipation of a low landing. Others are heard shouting out in surprise over the roar of the engines as the pink and white jet swoops down until it is just a matter of yards over the heads of the plane spotters, and even wobbles slightly as it prepares for touchdown. As it narrowly clears the perimeter fence, it is so low that it kicks up dust and sand into the air and ruffles the hair of one man who is seen in the footage flinching. In another angle from a second camera, people's clothes are shown being buffeted by the gust caused by the jet. One young girl is even shown falling over backwards - knocked down by the force of the jet - while a woman loses her hat.

One onlooker even begins to move out of the way in anticipation of a low landing. Others are heard shouting out in surprise over the roar of the engines as the pink and white jet swoops down until it is just a matter of yards over the heads of the plane spotters, and even wobbles slightly as it prepares for touchdown. As it narrowly clears the perimeter fence, it is so low that it kicks up dust and sand into the air and ruffles the hair of one man who is seen in the footage flinching. In another angle from a second camera, people’s clothes are shown being buffeted by the gust caused by the jet. One young girl is even shown falling over backwards – knocked down by the force of the jet – while a woman loses her hat.

As this happens, the wheels of the plane make contact with the tarmac, and the pilot successfully lands the jet on Skiathos. One aviation buff, commentating underneath the video posted to YouTube by GreatFlyer on August 5, explained why the conditions meant such a low landing was necessary. 'High temperature and very short runway, you have to do a deep landing to maximize the available runway for stop,' they wrote. 'Low cost airlines operates with short turnaround times, if you overheat the brakes you mess up the schedule of the plane.'

As this happens, the wheels of the plane make contact with the tarmac, and the pilot successfully lands the jet on Skiathos. One aviation buff, commentating underneath the video posted to YouTube by GreatFlyer on August 5, explained why the conditions meant such a low landing was necessary. ‘High temperature and very short runway, you have to do a deep landing to maximize the available runway for stop,’ they wrote. ‘Low cost airlines operates with short turnaround times, if you overheat the brakes you mess up the schedule of the plane.’

GreatFlyer, whose YouTube channel features dozens of dramatic plane landings and take-offs, suggested that the Wizz Air pilots landing in Skiathos was the lowest-ever at the airport. The airport's runway is found in the north-east of Skiathos island, and is built in-between two hills that flank the stretch of tarmac. At each end of the tarmac, the Mediterranean sea is just yards away.

GreatFlyer, whose YouTube channel features dozens of dramatic plane landings and take-offs, suggested that the Wizz Air pilots landing in Skiathos was the lowest-ever at the airport. The airport’s runway is found in the north-east of Skiathos island, and is built in-between two hills that flank the stretch of tarmac. At each end of the tarmac, the Mediterranean sea is just yards away.

The runway measures at 5,341-foot (1628 meters), meaning it is barely longer than a mile, putting it in the 'short and narrow' category of runways. By comparison, runways for commercial airlines tend to measure between 7,000 to 12,000 feet. Heathrow's runway measures at 12,799 feet (around 2.1 miles). Due to the uneven terrain on the Greek island, the airport was built by reclaiming land from the sea between Skiathos island and the smaller island of Lazareta, joining the islands together into a single, larger island.

The runway measures at 5,341-foot (1628 meters), meaning it is barely longer than a mile, putting it in the ‘short and narrow’ category of runways. By comparison, runways for commercial airlines tend to measure between 7,000 to 12,000 feet. Heathrow’s runway measures at 12,799 feet (around 2.1 miles). Due to the uneven terrain on the Greek island, the airport was built by reclaiming land from the sea between Skiathos island and the smaller island of Lazareta, joining the islands together into a single, larger island.

The relatively short landing strip runs north-to-south and from coast-to-cast, meaning pilots have to approach as low as possible in order to give themselves enough runway to land on and come to a stop. Otherwise, they risk the aircraft going off the end of the runway and into the water. Because of the short runway, some planes even have to take off with less fuel. Many flights then have to touch down minutes later in nearby Thessaloniki to refuel.

The relatively short landing strip runs north-to-south and from coast-to-cast, meaning pilots have to approach as low as possible in order to give themselves enough runway to land on and come to a stop. Otherwise, they risk the aircraft going off the end of the runway and into the water. Because of the short runway, some planes even have to take off with less fuel. Many flights then have to touch down minutes later in nearby Thessaloniki to refuel.  

Watching the planes from the end of the runway is not without its risks. Last month, a 61-year-old British woman was knocked over backwards when she and a group of tourists gathered to watch a plane take off. Footage showed her spread her arms out wide, before the force from the engines became too much, and she fell backwards down a small step. Reports from the Greek island said she was unharmed, but airport officials were forced to publicly stress that the runway meets the necessary safety standards.

Watching the planes from the end of the runway is not without its risks. Last month, a 61-year-old British woman was knocked over backwards when she and a group of tourists gathered to watch a plane take off. Footage showed her spread her arms out wide, before the force from the engines became too much, and she fell backwards down a small step. Reports from the Greek island said she was unharmed, but airport officials were forced to publicly stress that the runway meets the necessary safety standards.

A month earlier, a 79-year-old man was knocked over when a plane flew overhead. A report from Greek City Times said he had tried to get clear of the stretch of road at the end of the runway, but couldn't get clear in time. In 2018, a British schoolboy was injured after he was blasted through the air by the turbines of an Airbus 320 after visiting a controversial tourist attraction. The 12-year-old was with his father watching planes land just above their heads when he was fired more than 30 feet through the air on a Greek island. He landed on the sand.

A month earlier, a 79-year-old man was knocked over when a plane flew overhead. A report from Greek City Times said he had tried to get clear of the stretch of road at the end of the runway, but couldn’t get clear in time. In 2018, a British schoolboy was injured after he was blasted through the air by the turbines of an Airbus 320 after visiting a controversial tourist attraction. The 12-year-old was with his father watching planes land just above their heads when he was fired more than 30 feet through the air on a Greek island. He landed on the sand.

Earlier that same year, a man who was stood filming planes take off from Skiathos got the shock of his life when he was also knocked off his feet by the powerful thrust of an aircraft's engines. GreatFlyer compared last week's Wizz Air landing with another low approach from an Air Italy landing in 2013 on the same island. As with the Wizz Air flight, the Air Italy plane cleared the airport's perimeter by a few yards, leading to some to claim it was the lowest landing ever captured on video. Some suggested last week's low landing may have been even lower. Its geography has made Skiathos a popular destination for plane watchers. There can be up to 100 people surrounding the runway on a busy day and the airport has been dubbed the European St Maarten - an island in the Caribbean which is also famous for its low-landing planes.

Earlier that same year, a man who was stood filming planes take off from Skiathos got the shock of his life when he was also knocked off his feet by the powerful thrust of an aircraft’s engines. GreatFlyer compared last week’s Wizz Air landing with another low approach from an Air Italy landing in 2013 on the same island. As with the Wizz Air flight, the Air Italy plane cleared the airport’s perimeter by a few yards, leading to some to claim it was the lowest landing ever captured on video. Some suggested last week’s low landing may have been even lower. Its geography has made Skiathos a popular destination for plane watchers. There can be up to 100 people surrounding the runway on a busy day and the airport has been dubbed the European St Maarten – an island in the Caribbean which is also famous for its low-landing planes. 

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