Some very hairy moments

We’ve seen some difficult and dangerous landings at Madeira’s airport in these pages.  Here’s a compilation of the most hazardous landings and takeoffs there of 2015.

Good work by the pilots.  I’m glad I wasn’t aboard any of them . . .



  1. Late one evening a bunch of years ago, we were flying a Northwest A320 from Minneapolis to Orange County John Wayne airport. Weather forecast wasn't bad and the ATIS 30 minutes out was similar. Got on extended final and tower reported 29kn direct crosswind, gusty winds, rain moderate to heavy on a runway 5500 ft long with a Cessna jet reporting 20 kn wind shear and a Delta 757 reporting 15kn wind shear on final approach. Since greater than 15kn is out of limits for wind shear, I elected to use Delta's report as we are similar in performance. At 200 ft I got full left stick input and moments later I had a full nose up input. Decided to go around. Another Delta was behind us and did the same thing. We came around for another attempt. Nothing had changed, so we went to Ontario and ran out of crew day before we could get refueled and return to try again. Sometimes, it is better to not be a hero!

  2. Jacquejet, thank you.

    I was at Madeira some 20+ years ago. Now, our plane landed without trouble… but they lenghtened the runway. From 1800 m back then (wiki) to 2780. Now they only have to deal with winds through a volcanic archipelago. I don't know a thing about piloting, but I can't see how they could make that airport easy. Less challenging, maybe. Easy?

    Take care

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