Gallery: Remembering Thrilling Landings at Kai Tak Airport
Kai Tak Airport was the international airport of Hong Kong from 1925-1998. It was well known for its hair-raising aircraft landings, making it a favorite of aviation photographers and crowds alike.
Kai Tak—built on reclaimed land in Kowloon Bay opposite Hong Kong Island—was surrounded by mountainous terrain, water and eventually high-rise buildings.
Landings were technically demanding for pilots, as they could not use aircraft instruments to land. Who could forget the checkerboard approach, with the tight right-hand turn to line up for runway 13 (aka “Kai Tak heart attack”), and passengers at the right-hand windows looking right into people’s lounge rooms?
It was pleasing to learn recently that the famous Checkerboard Hill itself was being renovated.
The airport was closed in 1998 to make way for the current Hong Kong International Airport, at the safer Chek Lap Kok island location.