Nervous flyers look away now! From hitting the ground nose-first to topsy-turvy cross-winds, these terrifying videos show some of the scariest landings around the world
- MailOnline rounds up moments in the air just a little too close for comfort
If you’re someone who spends a flight gripping the armrest, clenching your eyes shut, and praying to some higher power you don’t usually believe in, you may want to look away now.
From Skiathos in Greece, to Lukla in Nepal, there are some runways around the globe that would put any seasoned flier – or even pilot – on edge.
Whether it’s an ocean approach just metres away from the shoreline or a runway nestled between a vast mountain range that requires keyhole precision landing, there are some touch downs where you may want to wait until you’re on the ground before you admire the scenery of your destination.
But even those not considered to be the world’s most terrifying have had their fair share of near misses and horrifying landings. Poor weather or just a last minute gust of wind can throw any aircraft off course from its landing strip.
It’s in these horrifying moments that you’re incredibly grateful for the immense skill pilots posses.
Here, MailOnline looks at some of the most terrifying moments of airport drama as flights make anxious landings and thrill-seekers brave some very close calls.
Luxembourg Airport, Luxembourg
This is the terrifying moment the landing gear snapped off a plane bound for the United States after it was forced to turn back and carry out an emergency landing in May.
The Boeing 747, headed for Chicago O’Hare International Airport, had to return to the Luxembourg Airport runway to land after its landing gear failed to retract.
Dramatic footage shows the plane touching down on the tarmac, with the heavy landing causing one of its wheel bogeys to detach and bounce into the air.
Smoke billows out from the from the rear wheels as the plane makes contact with the ground.
Pictures of the aftermath show a gaping hole in the plane’s undercarriage, and a large dent where it appears the wheels had bounced up and into.
Away from the plane, the four wheels lay on the grass adjacent to the runway.
Cargolux, the company that operates the plane, described it as a ‘significant landing incident’ in a statement, saying the plane also had to dump fuel.
Salzburg Airport, Austria
Nail-biting footage shows the moment a Boeing B7370-800 battled through crosswinds to make a dramatic landing at Salzburg Airport in Austria.
The clip, filmed in 2017, shows the Enter Air flight touching down in 50mph winds as the pilot wrestles to keep the aircraft under control.
The plane tilts sharply to the right as it descends and is set straight only seconds before making making contact with the ground.
As it levels out, its wheels bounce off the tarmac, with a heavy blow felt inside.
Passengers inside were forced to brace as the plane touched down, before quickly pulling back up.
The pilot was reportedly forced to fly the plane back to Frankfurt, Germany, where passengers had boarded less than an hour beforehand.
A spokesman for the company told MailOnline: ‘The hurricane wind at Salzburg was very strong and when the aircraft received strong gust of wind, pilots acted quickly according to procedures and aborted landing.
‘Polish pilots are very well trained for such weather conditions. No one was injured.’
Heathrow Airport, Britain
Video shot from Heathrow Airport shows the moment a British Airways jet’s tail made contact with the ground in an uneasy landing during Storm Corrie last year.
Winds of up to 92mph caused devastation across the UK at the start of last year as Storm Corrie battered the country, causing fatalities, leaving thousands without power, closing schools and cancelling trains.
The footage shows the plane coming in to land at the London airport on Monday 31 January shortly after midday after leaving Aberdeen at around 10:50am.
As the plane makes contact with the ground, it appears to tip awkwardly to the side before quickly shifting its weight back.
The pilot acts quickly to correct the failed landing as the rear of the plane scrapes along the runway, pulling up and averting any more damage.
Witnesses said paint dust could be seen coming off the tail of the plane as it hit the ground during the shaky landing attempt.
A British Airways spokesman said at the time: ‘Our pilots are highly trained to manage a range of scenarios, including extreme weather conditions, and our flight crew landed the aircraft safely. Our customers and crew all disembarked as normal.’
Birmingham Airport, Britain
A similar clip shows a Wizz Air flight attempting a landing at Birmingham airport during Storm Ciara in early 2020.
The storm caused Heathrow to cancel 472 flights and Gatwick to axe 333.
Birmingham airport grounded another 101 flights, but not before this plane was seen attempting to descend, swaying in high winds amid severe weather conditions.
A short clip shows the jet rocking back and forth, left and right, as it gets closer to the ground.
As it approaches, the plane appears to be turning awkwardly away from the runway before quickly righting itself in time to land.
Astonishingly, the pilot manages to keep control of the plane as it touches down and bounces along the runway.
Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport, Greece
Measuring less than a mile long, the landing strip at Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis has seen some extraordinarily low landings that demand ultimate concentration from pilots.
One particular touchdown shocked the world by how close it skimmed across a beach just metres from daredevil plane watchers beneath. This viral video last year caught the sheer absurdity of the approach and the skillful touchdown.
The Wizz Air plane is initially seen cruising in from distance over the turquoise Mediterranean waters, not dissimilar to any other landing.
A group of plane spotters are gathered along adjacent beach and a road that runs along a narrow bit of land between the sea and the runway.
But as the plane nears and moves alarmingly close to the anchored boats underneath, it is clear the pilot is bringing the plane in at a lower altitude than might usually be the case.
One concerned onlooker makes the good decision to move out the way in anticipation of the startlingly low landing.
The Wizz Air-operated Airbus A321neo quickly nears and scoots over the perimeter fence. The plane is so low dust and sand is flicked up into the air.
One man caught in the frame of the camera is seen flinching as the plane ruffles his hair. It would be considered quite a comical moment if it wasn’t for the plane being so concerningly low.
In a second camera shot, people’s clothes are shown being buffeted by the gust caused by the jet as a girl standing near to the beach seen being knocked backwards.
The airport’s runway measures just 5,341-foot (1,628 meters), considered to be very short for a landing strip. The runway 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 and come to a stop.
Astana Airport, Kazakhstan
In another clip, a Fokker-100 is seen making a dramatic entrance at the Astana airport in north-central Kazakhstan, attempting to land without its front wheels.
The plane had been travelling from the city of Kyzylorda in south-central Kazakhstan’s Kyzylorda region when it first noticed its landing gear had failed to lower.
As the aircraft reached the airport, the pilot realised the front landing gear was still stuck.
In the first instance, its landing was delayed, with the plane having to climb back into the air to buy time to attempt to fix the issue and for airport officials to cover the tarmac with special foam to prevent a fire and arrange for fire engines to stand by.
When crew were unable to fix the gear, the plane made a steady descent onto the runway.
Off balance, the plane’s nose touches the ground and scrapes along the tarmac until it comes to a stop.
The plane landed eventually one hour late, and none of the 116 passengers or five members of staff were injured.
Captain Dmitry Rodin said although it was something they had trained for, he had never heard of anybody actually having to use the technique in 35 years of flying experience.
The captain said: ‘I simply followed the book, and fortunately it worked out.’
Schiphol Airport, The Netherlands
In 2015, a Boeing 777 was caught on film rocking from side to side in strong winds while making its approach at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
The extreme weather conditions were the result of a summer storm that elsewhere took the life of a man who was crushed by a falling tree while sitting in his car.
The Netherlands’ meteorological agency was forced to issue a ‘Code Red’ warning as the storm battered the city with winds of up to 75mph.
But one skillful KLM pilot earned his wings by steadily landing the world’s largest twinjet despite the conditions.
Footage shows the plane coming in to land, bouncing to the left and right before awkwardly touching down on the runway.
The pilot is quickly able to get the plane under control, stabilising its entry and coming to a steady stop.
Nonetheless, a terrifying experience for onlookers and those on board.
Dramatic footage from inside the plane showed violent turbulence as the 777 made its descent.
People can be heard voicing their panic and anticipating the touch-down as the video maker stares down and holds his camera towards the ground.
The plane then lands with a thud and the relieved passengers respond by clapping and celebrating as the aircraft manoeuvres safely along the tarmac before coming to a stop.
Dublin Airport, Ireland
Video shot this April captured the shocking moment sparks fly from a Ryanair jet after its nose wheel collapsed while landing at Dublin airport.
An emergency was declared after the plane ground to a halt, with officials saying the aircraft had experienced a ‘minor issue’ with its landing gear.
No injuries were initially reported after the Ryanair flight arrived from Liverpool, as footage emerged showing a stream of sparks flying from the front wheel of the aircraft on Sunday afternoon.
In the clip, emergency crews were seen quickly rushing towards the plane.
Pictures taken after the shock accident showed the front wheel and its landing mechanism completely crumpled underneath.
Princess Juliana Airport, Saint Martin, Caribbean
The Caribbean island airport is certainly one destination where you might not want to look out the window amid a dauntingly low landing.
While the miles of golden sandy beaches lined by crisp blue water are no doubt stunning, maybe just wait until you have both feet firmly planted on the ground if you don’t want to see your plane fly just metres over beachgoers.
The island, just like Skiathos, is known for its low landings due to the short runway – just 1.4 miles in length.
There has been no shortage of videos leaving many aghast online at the huge Boeing 747 passenger jets touching down on the runway after skimming over sunbathers overhead.
Groups of spectators will often gather on the island’s Maho Beach, a stretch of golden sand that separates the airport’s runway and the glistening blue Caribbean sea.
Plane spotting has grown to be a popular activity on the island due to the low altitude descents, but remains incredibly dangerous.
In 2017, a woman was thrown to her death after a low flying plane blew her off her feet on take-off. The woman, from New Zealand, had been holding onto the fence when she was blown from her feet before hitting her head on the rocks and suffering fatal injuries.
Tourists visiting the picturesque beach regularly climb up onto rocks to watch planes come into land, despite signs specifically warning against the danger. Police on the Dutch territory make daily visits to the beach to warn those gathering beneath. The History Channel even named.
History Channel programme Most Extreme Airport even named Princess Juliana Airport as one of the world’s most dangerous.
Phuket International Airport, Thailand
Tourists are also known to gather at Phuket International Airport in Thailand.
As with the others, Phuket’s runway is only separated from the ocean by a picturesque beach, meaning people often gather on the golden sands or stand in the ocean to watch planes fly overhead.
Photographs from the beach show tourists often pose as jets soar in to land, capturing spectacular shots of the underside of passenger planes in the stunning island setting.
However, in 2019, Thai aviation authorities threatened tourists with the death penalty for taking selfies on the beach next to the Phuket airport, saying that doing so ran the risk of distracting pilots coming in to land.
They said the punishment was in-line with other offences, such as shining laser pointers at planes as they come in to land, which runs the risk of impairing a pilot’s vision.