Could a commercial airplane use a highway as a landing strip?


While they weren’t designed for this purpose and no successful record of such a landing exists, the answer is yes.

I base my answer on the fact that on April 4, 1977, Southern Airways flight 242 (a DC-9-31) tried to attempt this feat in the state of Georgia in the U.S.

While ultimately not a very successful try, it does make the case that such action is plausible under the right circumstances. The problem with motorways is, although they have similar properties to a regular landing strip, there are cars and surrounding obstacles like sign posts that make things a bit tricky.

For a more detailed analysis on the feasibility of such a thing, see here.

On a lighter note, this video suggests it may depend on who’s on the motorway at the time…


Question from Sarah Joy via Twitter

Answer by Artem Cheprasov

Article by Artem Cheprasov

October 3, 2013

Dr. Artem Cheprasov was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. He then moved to the U.S. when he was a little boy. So no, he is not a spy. Or is he? He finished his studies in veterinary medicine at the top 10% of his class, conducted research, and discovered a cool mathematics algorithm; but we cannot confirm this as both Washington and Moscow have refused to comment on this matter either because he really is a spy or more likely because they have no idea who he even is.

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