Very Tricky Landing in Tegucigalpa

Dear reader,

have you ever been to Tegucigalpa? 🙂

If you haven’t, let me tell you one thing: if you fly there it will be a landing you will never forget. It will be the first time an airplane takes a vertical inclination on such low altitude that you think the wing touches the houses below. Plus the stir of currents and the sudden immersion between hills will make the landing in Toncontín Intl. Airport in Honduras a unique experience. And to think that this time there wasn’t even turbulence involved.

This time, it all happened on a rainy morning…

My colleague E and I were flying to Tegucigalpa for a work mission. We were flying from Miami, which trust me, was traumatic enough. Endless turbulence, countless of air pockets, up-and-down swings and a huge storm made our arrival… a two-hours prolonged disaster.  I am used to flying, but this one in particular was way beyond belief.

My Dad, on the phone: “Oh come on Stana, I don’t believe you, you’ve flown all your life, you know better than that by now! I do not want to hear that you were afraid of landing in Tegucigalpa, ok?! ¬¬”

Typical. He flew for 37 years with Alitalia, enough time to experience all sort of experiences and accidents. Once he was caught by turbulence while going back to the pilot cabin and literally ended up stuck into the over head compartments.

So, what is so special about Toncontín Intl. Airport?

Listed as the third most dangerous airport in the world, It has been subjected to scrutiny very often after several accidents occurred in the past 20 years. Since it was built in 1934 it was thought to serve less powerful air crafts that didn’t require very long runways.

The airport is located on an elevation of 1,005 meters and the runway is barely 2,163 meters long. As a comparison, Fiumicino runway is 3,900 meters and Santiago’s is 3,748 meters long sitting on an elevation of 474 meters.

It’s not just about the runway length but the fact that the airport is nestled in a cove of mountain terrains.

Landing in Tegucigalpa Stanito©Stanito, 2013

But that’s not it either! What’s even more special about this airport is that there is only one way in and one way out for airplanes, looking like this:

E and I didn’t know about this so it came as big surprise. My sneaky colleague E, unfortunately for me, took the left side of the plane saying “Don’t worry, this is the boring side!”

Landing Tegucigalpa Houses Toncontín2©BLucas, 2013

Landing Tegucigalpa Houses Toncontín1©BLucas, 2013

Landing Tegucigalpa Houses Toncontín©BLucas, 2013

Instead, all I was left with was the beautiful cloudy sky on the right side

Rainy sky tegucigalpa©Stanito, 2013

…until we finally landed.

Landing in Tegucigalpa Stanito 1©Stanito, 2013

Disclaimer: the photos above do not even reflect the most exciting moment, though. As the landing was so amazing and spectacular, my colleague was too distracted to take out her camera in time   😛


5 thoughts on “Very Tricky Landing in Tegucigalpa

    1. Hola Pablito, qué rico saber de ti 🙂

      Oye sii fue increíble el vuelo. Una pena que no pude sacar fotos en el momento más intenso (estaba distraida), pero te aseguro que fue realmente im-pre-sio-nan-te!

      abrazos a ti y a toda la familia 🙂 los recuerdo siempre

  1. The runway-requirements may have been shorter in 1934, but the technology on the aircraft and at the airport was of course also much less than it is today. It makes me wonder how planes could land there, or even find the airport, in bad weather 80 years ago.

    1. Ciao Andreas, come stai?

      You’re asking an intriguing question. It’s already tricky and conditions back then were also more adverse, it’s natural to assume that accidents happened more often back then. Plus the weather could only make landings even more dangerous.
      I found a website with the chronology of air craft accidents in Honduras, most of them happened since 1959. Most of them claimed by bad weather conditions… But no record yet from before 1934 …

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