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Skiathos runway a scary sight

- by Archimedes

Skiathos holiday runway a scary sight.

Flying into the Greek holiday island of Skiathos may herald the start of your Greek island holiday is definitely not for the faint of heart. Pilots bank around to hit Skiathos island runway from the south and passengers on the right side of the aeroplane can catch a brief glimpse the runway.

Skiathos is one of the most popular destinations for Greek island holidays and thousands fly in each year.

The Skiathos airport runway is laid across a very narrow neck of land between two heavily wooded hills. There is nothing at either end of the short runway but the deep blue of the Mediterranean sea.

Aeroplanes glide in across Skiathos Town bay and passengers sitting left-side will see holidaymakers sitting in the tavernas and cafes that line the shore.

Passengers are warned to expect plenty of noise when the wheels hit the concrete and, as aircraft touches down, the engines are thrown screaming into reverse.

This is because the runway is only just long enough to take fully loaded charter planes and the pilots don't have long to stop. The alternative is to overshoot and drop off the end of the runway and into the sea.

No need to worry though. Skiathos airport, although tiny, has an unblemished record. As does the holiday island of Skiathos itself, which is now one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Greek islands.

Nevertheless the arrival can be unnerving, especially if you are not fond of flying. Unfortunately it is even worse when you leave. Fully fuelled aeroplanes are too heavy to take off on the short runway so they must leave with fuel tanks virtually empty.

Pilots line up at the end of the runway and rev up until the engines can stand no more before releasing the brakes and shooting off like rockets. The near empty tanks require that they land a few minutes later at Thessaloniki on the mainland to take on enough fuel to fly home.