Travel

Plane nearly lands on guy sunbathing on German beach

A day at the beach can be more stressful than it seems, what with the potential for getting sunburnt, having your stuff stolen, or the myriad animals that want to sting everything in sight. But one sunbather reclining on the beach in Heligoland, Germany, had a much bigger problem looming overhead yesterday: A plane that nearly landed right on him and his beach towel.

The plane, a Piper PA-28-181 Archer II, was cruising over Germany's shore when it dropped down for a landing on the beach. But much to the pilot's surprise, and likely even more to the guy beneath it, the plane's wheels missed clipping a sun-worshipper by mere inches. The plane's pilot, 52-year-old Juergen Drucker, claims he didn't see the sunbather on his approach.

Which makes sense, because who would land a plane on a greased-up sunbather? 

According to The Daily Mail, Rainer Schmidt, a bystander who captured the dramatic scene on camera, was reportedly "watching the planes come into land", and having "seen five planes land before this one came in... instantly realized that this one was coming into land far too low". Another beach-lounger, Uwe Kaiser, confirmed that "The man who was almost hit was lying down and he turned over to look after seeing the plane coming and then instantly flung himself down in the sand as it crossed over him. It really was a close shave". 

That might've been the first time a European shaved anything for the beach.

After giving new meaning to pond-skimming, the plane clipped a fence before landing with little evidence of damage, and later -- after a few repairs -- flew home safely. 

Drucker also took full responsibility for his woefully misguided touchdown: "It was me that was flying and I am really sorry. I have to say, as the pictures show, that it wasn't one of my greatest achievements in the cockpit".

Though quick to admit his huge oversight, Drucker added he was "Just very grateful it worked out well and I didn't land on him".

Um, duh.

The pilot hopes his license won't be revoked, but after his phenomenal -- and potentially fatal -- error, we're not so confident this guy can stick the landing.

Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. On her summer vacations, she’s found that Cyprus Airways lands a little too close to Larnaca beach for her liking. Follow her to safe sunbathing on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.