Hence air flights are considered one of the safest ways of traveling, and the easiest one to get around the planet, it still creates discomfort and nervousness among air passengers. Airports are constructed in such a way that the landings and take-off are 100% secure. Thus, at first glance, people shouldn’t be worried about flying at all. But that’s not exactly true.
Safety is the feeling an airport must provide, but that’s not quite the case for all of the world’s currently operating airports. Some of them, bring a sense of insecurity, danger and uncertainty to visitors. Perhaps the location is the reason, as these are usually situated in steep valleys, mountains, beaches, and other places that don’t really make a good spot for an airport to be built.
So, for some people, taking off and landing in the most dangerous airports can be a real challenge. Read on to find out airports with the most difficult runways in the world and the most unusual locations that make them dangerous to be exploited.
Lukla Airport, Nepal
Lukla Airport in Nepal is also one of the smallest airports in the world. It was established back in 1964, and it serves as the only way for tourists to reach Mt. Everest. It was also named Tenzing-Hillary after the first two climbers. As the airport has small dimensions, its engineers hadn’t another choice but to make the runway short, which definitely makes the take-off and landings uneasy. The one direction runway is only 1,600 feet long, which also had on one end a mountain wall, and on another - a 2,000-foot dive.
The mountains don’t make these tasks easy as well, and only specially trained pilots would be able to maneuver the aircraft without incidents. Besides the location, there is no electric power in the airport sometimes, making LUA Airport the hardest airport to land at.
Toncontin Airport, Honduras
Being both civilian and military airport, Toncontin International Airport makes the list due to its setting. It ranked as the second most extreme airports in the TV program "Most Extreme Airports." It is not a surprise, as it is located in mountains and it has a narrow runway, making landings extremely difficult.
Pilots need to make a sharp turn and to descend upon the ground near a valley. Some passengers believe it's similar to landing on an aircraft carrier. Aside from that, during the disembark, gun-toting security guards often are greeting the civils. Well, that's not exactly as a regular air passenger would expect while getting off the plane.
Paro Airport, Bhutan
Located in a deep valley, six kilometers from Paro, the same-named airport requires a lot of skills on airplane pilots' behalf. Only 17 pilots in the world have the authorization to land an aircraft on Paro’s runway, since it is one of the most dangerous airport runways in the world. In order to successfully land a plane, pilots would need to maneuver professionally between 18,000-foot mountain peaks, leaned on one of their sides at 45-degrees. They are quite unable to see the runway until the last minute when they need to make a dramatic drop in altitude to reach it.
The airport is also operated by airlines only during the daytime. The most dangerous thing is that the plane flies really close to the mountain peaks, and at times it seems that it might touch them. In real life, many passengers claim that it looks much frightening than we can imagine, but the fresh air and the beauties are worth it.
Saba Airport, Dutch Caribbean
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, situated on the island of Saba, in the Caribbean Sea, has not only one of the shortest but also one of the most dangerous runways in the world. The 1,300-foot tarmac is surrounded by the sea on three sides, that’s why one of the most dangerous flight landings are performed in this airport. The steep cliffs which characterize the area don’t make the task easier for pilots, thus only well-trained ones have the right to land an aircraft on Saba Island.
Courchevel International Airport, France
The key factors that make Courchevel International Airport one of the most extreme airports in the world are the shortness (only 1,700 feet) and a downward gradient of 18,5%. To safely take passengers to the well-known winter leisure area, air pilots would need to be certified. The airport is also situated in a deep valley, enclosed by mountains, and the runway ending in a sharp breach. There’s also no energy power, making the landing in the poor weather conditions impossible.
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Though the airport isn’t used on a daily basis, and mostly the US Antarctic Program exploits it during the summer season, it is still a dangerous area to land an aircraft at. The runway is covered by ice, and there are no lights, so the pilots are trained to land blind.
Though in Antarctica is an incredible scenery, when landing, pilots shouldn't be attracted too much by it, since this beauty is quite deadly if not taken into consideration. Thus, the land of always winter is home to one of the most dangerous airports to land in the world.
Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten
At one end of the runway is located the Maho beach, making huge wind whirls and sand winds. This usually troubles the leisure of sunbathers when a large aircraft like an A340 or 747 is gushing above their heads. Though it seems fun to see a plane so close, it is a difficult situation for pilots, who need to descend fast, to reach the runway, and to calculate the landing well, in order to perform it without incidents.
Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland
The major problem that makes the area difficult to land an airplane at is the high-speed winds. One end of the runway edges directly with the sea, there is low visibility due to heavy snowstorms, and there are frequent volcanic eruptions. That is enough to consider Narsarsuaq Airport the most dangerous airport in the world, or at least one of it.
Gisborne Airport, New Zealand
The runway of Gisborne Airport is intersected by an actual railway. The airport has four runways - three grass and one asphalted - each of them being crossed by a national railway line. In order to make the landings safe, the flights are scheduled very carefully.
Gibraltar International Airport
Another airport whose runway is intersected by another road is Gibraltar International Airport. Like the Gisborne Airport, it is not extremely difficult to be landed at, but as it is crossed by a highway, it requires high schedule accuracy. The road gets closed when a plane needs to land, but as the runway is relatively short for the operated aircraft, and it borders with the sea at both ends, pilots have to hit the breaks the same moment the plane touches the ground.
Barra Airport, Scotland
This is the only public beach airport in the world. As it is situated on a beach, Barra Airport stops to be operated during high tides, and any of its three runways are put at the airplanes’ disposal during low tides. Pilots hove to worry about unfavorable weather conditions and rising tides when they have to land.
Madeira Airport, Portugal
Initially, the runway was too short to be exploited, so the engineers had to extend it, using a series of platforms that were built on an artificial island. The landing strip is set between steep cliffs, and it is washed by the ocean on three sides with mountains on one side. The platform is sustained by 180 columns, making it rigid against heavy landings.
Only qualified pilots have the right to land an aircraft in this airport due to high levels of risks of incidents. There is no instrument landing system (ILS), thus, pilots have to navigate the area manually. Also, there are speedy winds that can trouble the flights to this location.
Congonhas Airport, Sao Paulo, Brazil
The most dangerous thing in this airport is the short runway, making the approach very risky. As it is located inside a densely populated city, Congonhas Airport is extremely difficult to be reached. The runway is also considered to be one of the most slippery ones in the world, making the airport more dangerous.
Svalbard Airport, Norway
As it is located in a northern country and being covered in ice and snow most of the time, Svalbard Airport is characterized by an icy runway. To add on top of the already dangerous circumstances, water culverts are installed underneath the runway. Thus, to allow the water to drain from the mountains. Flights to this area are only permitted during the daytime, as there are no lights, making the airport inaccessible during wintertime. Though the airport is settled on a big chunk of ice, it was paved to prevent the melting during summertime.
Telluride Regional Airport, San Miguel County, Colorado
One more out of the hardest airports to land is Telluride Airport in Colorado State. The runway, which borders with 1,000-foot steep cliffs on its both ends and high-speed winds during the wintertime, which characterizes the mountain area, make the take-offs and the landings extremely difficult.
Last Updated on January 9, 2020.