These days, most of us take airports for granted. Flat, paved runways, large terminals, duty-free shopping, this is what the bulk of us picture when we think of flying. But while this is the case for many of the world’s international airports, for others, geography has required some creative solutions. Keep reading for a list of the world’s craziest airports!
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport
Located on the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba, Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is renowned for having the shortest commercial runways in the world: only 400m. Flanked on the one side by high hills and on all others by cliffs dropping into the sea, landing here will certainly be one of the more nerve-racking experiences of your life. The brave of heart will be rewarded, however, by experiencing one of the last unspoiled gems in the Caribbean.
Designed by Edmund Hillary himself; that’s right, Tenzing-Hillary Airport is where you fly into if you’re making an attempt at Everest. The airport, only paved in 2001, was rated by Most Extreme Airports as the most dangerous in the world for over 20 years; making it a suitable welcome to any hoping to follow in Hillary’s footsteps.
An altiport serving the ski resort of Courchevel in the French Alps, one look at it might have you reconsidering your winter holiday. There’s certainly a reason why only small planes and helicopters are permitted to land on this runway. The lack of lighting aids or instrument approach procedure are another reason why this airport is considered among the most dangerous in the world.
Taking a break from the heights for a moment, our next airport takes us to the Scottish Hebrides! While rumoured to be among the most beautiful landings in the world, this airport runway isn’t actually a runway at all; just a beach. Flights into and out of Barra are limited to daylight hours when the tide is out. As soon as the sea makes its return into shore, the airport closes and the beach is open for business!
Princess Juliana International Airport
You’ve probably already seen pictures or videos of planes coming into land at this airport, but if not: welcome to St. Maarten! The island is known for some truly stunning public beaches, but be warned: relaxation might not come so easy near the airport.
Don Mueang International Airport
Asia’s oldest operating airport, Don Mueang got its start all the way back in 1914, when it opened as a base for the Royal Thai Air Force. Don Mueang has certainly had an exciting history. Commercial flights began in 1924, but in the 1930s it was the site of intense fighting between various factions in the Boworadet Rebellion in the 30s. During the Second World War it also suffered several allied air raids during the Japanese occupation.
But it is less its history that qualifies Don Mueang International Airport for this list than the fact that a golf course is situated smack dab in the middle of it. Not even a fence separates golfers from the runways; a red light is used to hold them back whenever a plane is coming in to land. How’s that for par for the course?
Rated among the top 10 most dangerous airports in the world, Gibraltar International certainly does catch your eye when you first see it. Set right between La Línea on the Spanish side and the Rock and city of Gibraltar, Gibraltar Airport certainly dominates the scene.
The main reason for the airport’s danger is the fact that Winston Churchill Avenue, the only road connecting the British territory to Spain, cuts right through the middle of the runway. While a red light flashes to stop cars when planes are landing, this has not prevented a few close calls in the airport’s 79-year history.
Last, but certainly not least, is Greenland’s Narsarsuaq Airport. While you wouldn’t think much of it at first glance, Narsarsuaq is consistently rated the most dangerous airport in the world. The extreme cold temperatures mean the runway is often covered in a slick coat of ice. Unstable weather conditions mean frequent storms, bad turbulence, and poor visibility; not to mention strong winds which can push planes off course. To top it all off, a nearby volcano is very much active and eruptions are a common occurrence, adding clouds of ash to the list of dangers pilots must consider.
All the risks aside, if you luck out with clear visibility, flying into Narsarsuaq will reward you with breathtaking views of mountains, fjord, and ice. Worth it? We’ll leave that decision to you.
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