When it comes to air travel, danger is the opposite of what most people are looking for. However, some of the world’s airports are in such precarious positions, that danger is the only option. All these airports are certainly risky to fly into, but they also offer some incredible experiences. Whether you’re looking for excitement, or just happen to be traveling to some remote locations, these 15 most dangerous airports in the world will give anyone a thrill.
1. Courchevel Airport, France
This airport in France is among the most dangerous in the world. This airport mainly services ski areas, so is situated in the mountains. Not only does this area in France experience heavy winter weather, the runway itself goes over a giant hill. You’d better hope your airplane’s brakes are working if you’re flying into this one.
2. Barra International Airport, Scotland
This airport in Scotland is another one of the world’s most dangerous airports. Mostly servicing a remote community, this airport requires planes to land on a sandy beach in place of a runway. However, this is only true when the tide is out, since when the tide is in, the beach is underwater. Luckily, only small, regional flights use this airstrip, but 10,000 people annually experience the thrill of landing on this remote island.
3. Toncontin International Airport, Honduras
This airport in Honduras has been considered one of the most difficult, dangerous landings for a long time. This airport is located in an unusually mountainous area, with one of the world’s shortest runways. Because weather is also more unpredictable in the mountain ranges, planes must fight constant wind and complete a few sharp turns before lining up to the runway. The runway is so troublesome, that in 2008, an Airbus A320 overran the runway and the flight ended in five casualties. After the crash, a runway extension was completed adding 984 feet to the tarmac, making the total length 7,096 feet. The landing is only slightly easier now, and the unique location still requires a savvy pilot.
4. Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar
Another airport that’s really dangerous, yet must be an experience to fly into, is the Gibraltar International Airport. This dangerous airport is a thrill because the airport runway intersects with a major highway. Every plane that goes down the runway relies on drivers obeying traffic circles to land safely. Given how often traffic problems occur elsewhere, this landing is certainly exciting.
5. Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan
This airport just outside Osaka, Japan, is bordered on all sides by water. Because of high population density in Japan, the only place with enough room for an airport was on the ocean. The airport features spectacular views coming into it; however, fliers are probably too nervous about overshooting the runway to notice.
6. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba Island
While Toncontin International Airport airport in Honduras boasts one of the world’s shortest runways, the Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport in the Caribbean is the shortest in the world. Commercial flights rarely land on this runway, as it is only 396 meters long. The only aircraft allowed to operate from this airport are certified short takeoff and landing aircraft. So while the only aircraft that are capable of landing here are smaller, the short runway still makes for a thrilling approach.
7. Gustaf III Airport, Saint Barts
The airport on this French island in the Caribbean is definitely among the world’s most dangerous. Another airport with an extremely short landing, this landing strip ends in a very short beach, followed by the ocean. Larger planes must land at a neighboring airport on the island of St. Martin, but smaller prop planes regularly fly between St. Barts and St. Martin. Another airport that is a truly thrilling experience.
8. Ice Runway, Antarctica
The ice runway in Antarctica is the only way to land a plane on the continent. The airport has no paved runways, and planes are forced to land directly on ice. This is all in addition to some of the worst weather on the planet.
9. Princess Juliana International Airport, Simpson Bay, Saint Maarten
This airport in St. Maarten is well known on YouTube for the spectacular videos of planes landing nearly close enough to tourists’ heads for people to reach up and touch the planes. The airport runway begins directly on the other side of a sandy beach, so visitors see planes pass right over them.
10. Svalbard Airport, Svalbard, Norway
This airport in Norway is the furthermost northern airport in the entire world. Another airport with a smaller landing strip, this airport experiences perilous weather hazards, as it is above the Arctic Circle.
11. Tenzing Hillary Airport, Nepal
This airport in Nepal is notable because it’s the first stop on many climber’s journey when attempting to scale Mount Everest. Though the airport is somewhat popular, the runway terminates at the edge of a cliff. Another airport where taking off at the right time is essential.
12. Madeira Airport, Portugal
This airport off the coast of northern Africa is surrounded by water on one side and hills on the other. In the year 2000, the runway was expanded to run about half a mile straight out into the ocean. Despite the fact that this landing strip is long enough to accommodate commercial jetliners, even if you’re not afraid of the airstrip out over the ocean, constant inclement weather and difficult wind speeds will give anyone a thrill.
13. Congonhas Airport, São Paulo
Just miles away from the city center of São Paulo in Brazil, this airport was built in the 1930s. Because of the city’s subsequent rapid growth, the airport was almost immediately too small for the number of planes passing through it. However, city growth makes expanding the airport impossible, so pilots are forced to make hairpin turns and follow air traffic controllers’ instructions exactly in order to stay safe on the tarmac.
14. Matekane Air Strip, Lesotho
This is another air strip that is dangerous because of the unusual approach pilots are required to execute. Another airport surrounded by mountains and the ocean, this airport requires such a tight landing that pilots have to be specially trained. The clockwise approach in place of a typical straight approach, requires special handling and an iron will.
15. Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong
Thankfully this dangerous airport closed in 1998, but is likely still one of the scariest airports all time. The airport required a tight approach with planes just missing skyscrapers and surrounding mountains. Another airstrip that shot headlong into the harbor, this is one of the world’s most dangerous airports travelers no longer need to stomach.