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Gibraltar is a pretty interesting place to visit. Besides the giant rock that takes up most of the land, it’s the only place where we’ve had to drive across the airport runway to enter. This can cause a few complications since jets also use the runway. But the Gibraltarians take it in stride. When a plane is taking off or landing they hold back the traffic, just like at a railroad crossing.
Since there isn’t much land at Gibraltar they’ve come up with clever ways to use what they have. Before World War II, airplanes used to land on the grassy area in the middle of the local horseracing track. With the advent of the war the British built a runway into the sea. With minimal margin for error not just any pilot can land at Gibraltar. Despite the somewhat hairy landing, a quirk that placed the Gibraltar airport in a list of the top 10 unusual airports, there has never been a civil aviation accident.
We met our friends Charles and Maureen, native Gibraltarians, for a behind-the-scenes visit to the “Rock.” A relic of Gibraltar’s strategic position is that the rock itself is honeycombed with tunnels, some dating to the 1700s. We were inside one of these tunnels when we heard the unmistakable sound of a jet engine roaring to life, a noise that typically provokes a Pavlovian response in Larissa as she jerks her head quicker than a one-eyed dog in a sausage factory.
We ran to a viewpoint in the tunnel and were rewarded with a literal bird’s-eye view over the runway. Since there are only about five flights a day out of Gibraltar our timing was perfect. Here’s our video of a jet taking off from one of the quirkiest airports in the world. And as our friend Charles points out, also one of the safest.
If you’re into watching planes take off check out the video of the new runway viewing platform at Perth Airport.