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  1. Usually for my Christmas trip I do Rovaniemi or Iceland or one of the traditional Santa-ish places to go. But this year, I thought I'd try somewhere different (apart from the snow, of course), so I picked Sion, LSGS. Those of you who know Sion will by now be thinking that it's no place to land a 747, and you're dead right, it isn't. In the Real World™ you'd be in quite a lot of trouble if you tried it (as I discovered, they're a bit short on 747-sized parking spaces, apart from anything else). But hey — it's Christmas.... :-) To land on rwy 25 you need to folllow a precise course through a narrow mountain pass. Your final heading to the runway is 243º, but naturally the runway heading is 252º — and did I mention that it's only 6,562 ft in total length (although you can't use that much, naturally)? But hey, what are carbon brakes for? 8-º So here's a few pics of the last part of the trip, given that that's the.... interesting part. :-) As you can see, the earth is a bit bumpy around here. The bad news is, we have to start to descend below those peaks.... It's definitely an odd feeling to look around and see rock *above* you! But as we thread our way through the mountains, down is the way we need to go.... As this shot shows, the valley is reasonably wide so far, although it narrows somewhat, up ahead. Now and then a patch of localised mist appears, which helps to increase the heart rate even further. On the sheltered valley floor, the snow is fairly patchy — either that or else they haven't started to get their full winter allocation yet. Aha! Runway in sight (even if this isn't going to be a straight-in landing, as you can see). OK, prepare to land: double-check that all the automatics are disconnected and let's enjoy some old-fashioned hand flying. Happily, the 744 is a delight to hand-fly. :-) Landing (or perhaps crashing) imminent — the brisk cross-wind from my left isn't exactly helping things, either. Phew! *And* I managed not to go off the end of the runway (sorry there's no pics of the landing itself, but I was a tad busy!). The runway turnoff has a fairly tight left turn, as you can see. In fact, the taxyways are clearly not designed to be wide enough for a 744, either. They weren't sure where to put me without blocking up the taxyways or the apron, but we found a space eventually. So a safe arrival at Sion — and a very Merry Christmas to all! :-D Cheers, Brian
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