Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Funchal again

Landing at Funchal airport turned out to be rather more hair-raising than we had expected - or hoped.  It was recently said to be among the top ten most dangerous airports (not what you want to read days before going there) and it was easy to see where this reputation comes from.
The approach was from the south-west which meant a tight turn within the confines of the bay, trying not to get too close to the hills.  Then came the buffeting from winds funneling down the many valleys on the side of the mountain.  We were just about to touch down when a large gust blew us to one side and the pilot had to quickly put on full throttle to take us back up steeply and bank around again for a second try.  By this time the whole cabin was quiet!  Thankfully, we made it at the second attempt and a spontaneous round of applause broke out for the pilot.  Here, the picture doesn't quite reveal how close the hill on the far side of the airport is, to the runway.  Click on the picture for full size...
When we were down and all three sets of wheels were on the deck, we were still being thrown about by the cross winds as we taxied along to the new bit of runway which, alarmingly juts out over the sea.
Still, at least they give you some nice flowers to look at while gathering what's left of your nerves together and getting off the plane looking forward to taking off again at the end of your holiday!  No wonder they only let the most experienced pilots fly into Funchal.
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