Pilot Creates History With A “Bullseye Landing” On Burj Al Arab

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Dubai’s iconic Burj Al Arab hotel, renowned for hosting several spectacular events over the years, witnessed another record-breaking achievement early this morning when Polish pilot Luke Czepiela accomplished a remarkable “Bullseye Landing” of a plane on the hotel’s helipad.

At 39 years old, Czepiela has spent his life pushing the limits in aviation. At 6:58 AM on 14 March, he added another feat to his growing resume, becoming the first person in history to land a plane on the helipad, situated atop the sail-inspired Burj Al Arab at a height of 212 meters.

Czepiela, a former Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class World Champion, had just 27 meters to bring his Cub Crafters STOL (Carbon Cub / short take-off and landing) to a stop from a landing speed of 43 km/h. It took Czepiela two flyby laps, and he managed to land the plane in the third attempt, bringing it to a halt in just 20.76 metros from touchdown.

Although the aircraft is designed for abrupt landings in typical conditions, landing a plane on a platform raised 212 meters in the air, next to a 56-story building, and with no visual cues to guide him made Czepiela’s historic landing an extraordinary feat.

“The biggest challenge,” said Czepiela, who is an Airbus A320 captain by profession, “was the absence of any external reference points, which are typically present at an airport with hundreds of meters of runway.”

Czepiela had been preparing for this historic moment since 2021, having completed 650 test landings at ground level in Poland, the US, and Dubai to build his confidence in landing on the helipad without any visual references.

“Normally, when approaching a runway, I can easily see how high above it I am and control the approach path. But today, the ground was 212 meters below, and the helipad disappeared over the nose of the plane, reducing my periphery. As my last few references disappeared, I had to rely on my practice and instincts to bring the plane to a stop before running out of space,” said Czepiela.

A History of Making History

Dubai’s Burj Al Arab has become an iconic location for thrilling and jaw-dropping spectacles over the years, with Czepiela’s landing being only the latest in a series of incredible stunts.

In 2005, two of tennis’ biggest legends, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi, played a match on a makeshift court on the helipad, suspended high above the city of Dubai. The event was organized to promote the Dubai Duty-Free Men’s Open, and that iconic meeting in the clouds was ranked in 2022 by ATP as one of the 50 game-changing moments of the past 50 years.

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