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  • Konrad Tillman

Plane Spotting: Santos Dumont Airport From Sugarloaf


To end my stay in Rio De Janeiro, I had one last bucket list item I had to tick off of the list: Plane-spotting from Sugarloaf mountain. To get to Rio has been hectic, to say the least, with 14 hours in LATAM economy from La Paz in Bolivia. However, it was all worth after visiting Christ The Redeemer, and now plane-spotting one of the coolest airports in the world!

Getting Up To The Top

Getting to the top of the mountain is not for the faint of heart if you are afraid of heights. It's funny that since my favorite aspect of life is being on a plane😂. But a Gondola, no no no no no no.

These things petrify me

After taking the first Gondola, I thought I was in the clear. No no no either, next up came another Gondola that went even higher!

Sugarloaf Mountain

Well, I did it, and it was well worth it! The gondolas only last about 3 minutes each so it wasn't the end of the world😅.


Once I arrived at the top, I immediately rushed over to look out over the airport. My mum had just been in Rio a few weeks prior and informed me of her plane spotting at Sugarloaf! The views were simply stunning!

I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous to take off from this airport in a few hours😒🥴.

The runway at Santos Dumont airport is 4341 feet long. How are the 737 and A319 able to take off from this airport when the minimum runway length for a 737 is around 6000 feet? For some aircraft they just do it, but I was able to spot one of the specially designed GOL 737-700 for short runways!

Getting down required two more gondola rides that were not the most pleasant. If you happen to head up to Sugarloaf, it is a very pleasant time to do some planespotting. There are all sorts of good restaurants ranging from pizza to tacos and more!

Final Thoughts

If you are an avgeek like myself, this is certainly on your bucket list. Watching planes take off and land from Santos Dumont was a dream come true. If you are in Rio, it is a must-visit, and allow yourself at least 45 minutes to watch a plane land as sometimes landings will be scattered.


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