May 17, 2012

Video: Planes in Congo Use Narrow, Tree-Lined Road as Runway

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“Sure, big deal, a Cessna took off from a road, whoopty doo,” might have been your first thought upon reading this headline. Except this isn’t your uncle’s little 172. It’s a twin-engine, 15-passenger, 64-ft wingspan, Let L-410 Turbolet. The wingtips must be missing the Congolese trees by only a few feet.

And apparently this is common practice, based on the sight of several other planes on the pavement.

We do know that this isn’t a real runway. Based on its narrow width, obvious curves, lack of markings and all the trees and brush perilously close to the edge, it sure looks like a conventional, rural road built for cars and cows.

To the road/airport’s credit, there’s a marshaler directing the pilots once they land, and even a group of men who push the plane around in the absence of a motorized tug. Ingenuity for the win.

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