Flying into Hong Kong was an adventure in itself.
First, the air liner had to fly along a narrow corridor. Air space on both sides of the corridor were controlled by the People’s Republic of China. Aircraft that strayed away from the Hong Kong corridor were intercepted by Chinese Air Force fighter planes and ordered to land in a Communist Chinese air base.
Then the flight went low over Hong Kong harbor, with views of Hong Kong island to the left and Kowloon to the right.
The aircraft then made a right turn and set a course for Lion Rock, which towered over the whole of Hong Kong, and rose high above the aircraft. We flew only a few tens of feet above the tallest buildings.
The turning point for the aircraft was a prominent hill that had a large red and white checkerboard pattern covering its top, and bristling with communication aerials. This was the drop-dead turning point: turn here, or die at the face of towering Lion Rock.
Imagine doing that in fog, which many flights had to do. Hong Kong had no alternative airports for inclement weather, being surrounded by China. Aircraft had to land at Kai Tak, no matter what the weather or crosswinds were.
After the turn, the aircraft flew low over the Forbidden City, a square mile of land that belonged to China. Hong Kong police or army never went in there: it was totally lawless. It was the center of a huge international drug trade. It had factories and other businesses covered only with tents of black plastic film. Electric power was delivered through a maze of wires and cables, with no construction or maintenance codes whatsoever. Fires were common.
Then came the landing, on a single runway. After what the pilot had already navigated, the landing was easy–provided the winds co-operated.
Landing safely was cause for celebration.