Today, February 19, 2013, the Mariscal Sucre airport in Quito, Ecuador will be closing down for good. Quito’s downtown location and postage-stamp sized footprint have made it an infamously challenging airport, requiring approaching pilots to thread the needle through a maze of mountain valleys, volcanoes, and densely packed residential areas. The slightest miscalculation can send an airliner into a mountainside or send it screaming over the edge of the runway into people’s homes. Even without miscalculation, the approach is really quite something.
Treacherous as it may be, it is also very beautiful. I’d love to fly over scenery like this. Here’s a video from a Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 flying into Quito.
To give you a different perspective on this airport, here’s a video from a planespotter showing a KLM MD-11 landing and taking off at Quito.
And just for fun, here’s an A340 taking off from a slightly different perspective. Wow!
The New Mariscal Sucre airport is located about 20 miles outside of Quito, where it will be less disruptive to the locals and offer new opportunities for airport expansion. Although I haven’t found any good data about it, I assume the approach will be a little less treacherous and harrowing than the old one. Here’s to a long and productive life, and hopefully some more cool videos, for the New Mariscal Sucre airport!