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Ever wonder how huge airports manage to safely land one plane after another, spaced only a minute apart? In big cities with crowded airspace, commercial jets routinely follow one of many STAR arrival procedures, or “Standard Terminal Arrivals.” Think of STARs as a conceptual highway that planes follow while descending towards an airport, complete with speed limits and altitude requirements. STARs are essential to modern aviation because, like highways, they keep all arriving airplanes on a pre-determined route, making it much easier (and therefore much safer) for ATC to handle such enormous volume of fast-moving air traffic.

In this crazy aviation video, watch an American Airlines jet perform what is likely the tail end of a STAR during a nighttime arrival, beginning west of downtown Chicago, passing over the Loop (the city’s Central Business District) and ultimately turning to the Northwest towards O’Hare International Airport (ORD). As the plane approaches, we get panoramic views of the Windy City and its massive street grid and the seemingly endless Lake Michigan looming east of the Loop.

What’s the most stunning nighttime landing you’ve witnessed? Let us know in the comments, below.

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