Friday, 18 September 2009

Madeira: tales from a small island

I flew into Madeira last night, landing in the most spectacular way. Beginning our descent, the island suddenly came into view, but we appeared to be flying right past it. The pilot made a violent turn, having to somehow land this massive hunk of metal somewhere on the tiny island.

We get closer and closer and I can see the flashing lights on the runway going crazy. It's the smallest runway I've ever seen, perched precariously close to the sea. Straining my neck to look out the window, I can no longer see the island, only the sea, which we are hurtling towards at speed. A few inches to the right and we're swimming. A hush falls upon the cabin. Everyone seems nervous, even the Madeirans. A few seconds later and we hit the ground, lurching forward from the force of the landing. But now we're speeding down the runway so fast we'll soon be off the other side and into the water. The plane speeds on, but the pilot makes a slick turn, and we're safely on the tarmack. The whole cabin starts clapping and yelping with relief. 'Beautiful, beautiful', say the three Madeiran boys behind me. We've landed. We're safe. I'm here.

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