Corkscrew landing


A corkscrew landing (also spiral landing)[1] is a method of landing an aircraft that is intended to minimize the risk of the aircraft being hit by anti-aircraft fire from the ground on its way to a destination airport. Instead of slow descent towards the airport, in a corkscrew landing the aircraft is positioned at high altitude above the airport, then descends rapidly in a spiral. The maneuver is typically performed by pilots of military aircraft to avoid surface-to-air missiles.


The purpose of a corkscrew landing is to minimize the chance of an aircraft being struck by ground fire such as surface-to-air missiles as it lands.[2][3][4]


A corkscrew landing involves positioning the aircraft over the landing site at altitude, then descending in a steeply banked spiral path.[1][2]


The corkscrew landing maneuver has been reported as being performed in the Vietnam War.[5][6]

It has also become the standard method of landing by airlines flying into Baghdad International Airport after a DHL cargo aircraft was struck and nearly destroyed by a surface-to-air missile during takeoff in November 2003.


  1. ^ a b "DHL Plane Struck by Missile in Baghdad". Deutsche Welle. 22 November 2003. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b Michael Dobbs (March 26, 2008). "Clinton Appears Weary Of Taking 'Sniper Fire'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  3. ^ Torchia, Christopher (July 14, 2008). "A gentle descent to Baghdad's airport". USA Today. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  4. ^ Margaret Warner (August 17, 2010). "Security in Baghdad a Deadly Serious Business". PBS NewsHour. PBS. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  5. ^ Wright, Tony (24 November 2012). "In praise of flying beasts of burden". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  6. ^ Duffin, Allan T. (November 2006). "Landing in Baghdad". Air & Space magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 23 December 2012.