A recent article (How far behind me is that 737) brought back similar memories from my flying career.
My experience was at the end of a flight from South Westland to Christchurch International Airport. After an awe-inspiring but otherwise uneventful flight over the mountains, I reached Dunsandel checkpoint and was cleared by the Tower to join "long final" for the main runway, 02. Great I thought, feeling chuffed that my dusty old Cessna 172, CKN, was equal with the big boys. The whole city should see I'd arrived.
Dunsandel is quite some distance from Christchurch so I kept up my speed gradually loosing height and scanning the airspace for other traffic. Over the radio came a call from a 747. He was given permission to join "final", number 2 to the Cessna. Mm mm! that's me! I glanced behind and sure enough I could just make out the outline of the 747 miles away. Apart from a little tension that I didn't have the sky and airport to myself, things went smoothly.
For a bush pilot landing at an international airport is not all beer and skittles. You need to sharpen up mentally to deal with radio traffic, several other aircraft in the sky, and funnily enough, decide where to land on the enormous expanse of tarmac ahead. I had learnt that if you land too early you end up taxing for miles.
After a few more minutes the Tower cleared the 747 to land again behind the Cessna. By this stage I was comfortable at 70 knots on "short final", setting up for a landing well down the runway. The next radio call was the Tower clearing me to land and please clear the runway immediately to the left. I glanced behind again - YIKES - the 747 was bloody enormous and was approaching fast.
Woowee! I immediately selected full flap, cut the power, and pushed down the nose for a short landing. Once stable on the ground, I applied full brakes and charged off to the left across the grass as instructed. Then followed 300 tons of high speed aluminium thundering down the strip, the crew no doubt laughing at my reaction.
Well so much for my hoped for dignified and notable arrival. I taxied humbly along the access way well back from the 747 and slunk over to the private apron. Back to the bush ASAP.