Taking off and landing an airplane are done millions of times every year, by the most proficient of pilots. It seems simple enough; you take the plane from land to sky, and back again?
This is certainly true. But it is also true that there are better runways to land on than others! There are some seriously scary runways at airports around the world. Here are our top ten…
10. Isle of Barra Airport, Scotland (BRR)
At the airport on the Isle of Barra, the runway disappears every evening. Opening times are dictated not by highly thought out planning structures or even by air traffic control. No. At the airport on the Isle of Barra, the runway is on the beach, and the opening times are dictated by the tides. Trust the moon for this airport entry.
9. Courchevel Airport, France (CVF)
As a general rule, if an airport is located somewhere people go for ‘adventure activities’; the adventure begins before the activity does. This is definitely the case at Courchevel airport, a popular ski resort. Pulling into a landscape of mighty mountains and avalanches, the plane transports skiers to the slopes. Hopefully.
8. Skiathos Island National Airport, Greece (JSI)
The purpose of a runway at an airport is to create space. The airplane needs space to get high enough into the sky that it doesn’t crash into the airport when taking off. Skiathos airport in Greece, however, is in the middle of the town. And it has one of the shortest runways in the world. Rather you than me!
7. Princess Juliana Airport, St. Maarten (SXM)
Flying into an airport in the Caribbean, you might be forgiven for thinking about the beach. And don’t worry, because with this airport runway, you’ll see a lot of it. The flight approach to this scary airport is just above the water. In fact, the airport is so close to the water that many gather on Maho Beach to watch the horror unfold.
6. Sea Ice Runway, Ross Island, Antartica
The fear in this airport is quite simple. When you land in any airport, you’re essentially landing a massive, very hot chunk of metal. Here, you are doing that on ice. Oh, and the pilot can’t sink the wheels in more than 10 inches, otherwise you might not be flying back.
5. Toncontin Airport, Honduras (TGU)
If you are looking for some sharp turns and a nail biting approach to your airport, perhaps you should fly to Toncontin Airport in Honduras. In the final moments of the approach to the airport, the pilot must turn 45 degrees, before landing in the middle of the mountains. But because the airport is in the middle of a valley, the wind changes very suddenly. As they say in Honduras: Buena suerte!
4. Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Nepal (LUA)
When an airport is named after two of the greatest explorers of all time, you can be confident that the airport runway is going to be an adventure. At this high-altitude airport, the pilot must weave through the Himalayan hills and then slam down the brakes immediately on touchdown. If the pilot doesn’t, the plane will fly into the rock wall at the end of the airport runway. Cross your fingers for this landing!
3. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Caribbean Netherlands (SAB)
This airport is located on the edge of the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba. One end of the runway is sea. The other end of the runway is… you guessed it… more sea. At 400 metres, this is also the shortest commercial runway in the world. I hope the plane serves some good cocktails before you land!
2. Paro Airport, Bhutan (PBH)
An airport is designed so that planes can fly to it. This much seems obvious. Paro airport, in Bhutan, is seemingly not designed this way. At last check, there are only 8 pilots that are qualified to fly into this airport! If you haven’t got one of them, you’re not getting anywhere!
1. Gustaf III Airport, St. Barth’s (SBH)
The average runway length in an airport stands at 5, 500 metres, to make it safe for incoming flights from the airport. At this airport, however, the runway is a mere 650 metres long. It also involves a high-speed, steep descent over a mountaintop. Luckily, it’s very unlikely you will ever fly into this airport, on an island reserved primarily for celebrities!