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ACCORDING TO southern California’s Orange County Register newspaper, our local John Wayne Airport (KSNA, Santa Ana) makes the list as one of the scariest. This appellation comes from a travel website that likens its jet departures to missile launches or space-shuttle liftoffs.
This has to do with noise abatement and a relatively short (5701-ft.) runway.
Pilots sometimes—but not always—warn passengers what to expect. For the uneasy, though, it’s still a bit disconcerting. Engines are revved to full power before the brakes are released. Leaving the tarmac, the aircraft climbs at an extreme angle of 20-25 degrees, twice that of a typical departure. Then comes the fun part: At 1000 ft., power is cut back to perhaps 85 percent, everything becomes quiet onboard as the aircraft floats nose-up at around 15 degrees. Things continue that way until it’s over the ocean—and past the airport noise sensors.
I’m into Microsoft computer flight sim, and KSNA is my “home field.” By the way, there’s very nice addon scenery for this airport by fellow simmer Shehryar Ansari, a free download from FlightSim.com, my favorite website on the topic.
Most of my flightsim fooling is with old crates; I build historical craft with GMax and import them into my FS2004 setup. But, from time to time, just to keep in practice I try one of these KSNA noise-abatement takeoffs with a modern jet. I must be doing it ok because, thus far, the neighbors haven’t complained.
Other airports—in real life as well as on the sim—qualify for “scary” listings. Two of my favorites are Madeira and Hong Kong’s now-discontinued Kai Tak. Both are curved approaches onto relatively short real estate. Madeira’s approach has the island’s mountainous topography directly ahead, then on final to one side, the ocean on the other. Kai Tak’s had you peering into people’s apartments on a steeply banked right turn. Again, there’s excellent addon scenery at Flightsim.com. I have Pedro Oliveira’s Madeira and 9Dragons’ neat Kai Tak.
I’ve visited Madeira in real life; I knew what was coming, but it was still exciting. I’ve never been to Hong Kong.
And I’m sure glad the sim has a reset button. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2012