Traveling is such an exciting proposition. It gets even more exciting if you head out to exotic places seldom visited by tourists. It becomes most thrilling if it will land you in some of the most difficult runways and airplane approaches on earth. Here is a list of the top 10 most dangerous airports in the world.
10. Qamdo Bamda Airport, Tibet
It is also known as the Changdu Bangda Airport, this airport is located in Bamda, Qamdo in Tibet in China. It is considered as the highest airport in the world at an elevation of 4,334 meters. It also has the longest publicly-used paved runway in the world at 5.5 kilometers. The thin air in the place means that passengers alighting from the plane may feel some dizziness and light headedness. The engines of aircrafts must also put up with more stress as the higher elevation means that less thrust is produced.
9. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba Island
The Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is located in the Netherlands’ island in the Caribbean called Saba. Its runways have a length of only 400 meters and end with a cliff drop to the sea. High hills also flank one side of the runway. It is so dangerous that it has been officially declared as closed to traffic, although the Civil Aviation Authority of the Netherlands Antilles grants some exceptions.
8. Gustaf III Airport, Saint Barthelemy
Also known as Saint Barthelemy Airport or St. Jean Airport, Gustaf III Airport is located in the French-administered Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy. It was named after the 18th century king of Sweden after he bought the island from France, though it was later sold back in 1878. The airport has a short runway that usually accommodates only small aircrafts of less than 20 passengers. The runway is at the base of a slope that ends on the beach. Planes exercise caution during the approach because of the hilltop traffic. Planes taking off do so right over the heads of people sunbathing at the beach.
7. Ice Runway, Antarctica
The Ice Runway is owned by the United States and is the principal airstrip for the country’s Antarctic program during the summer field season. While there are a couple of other runways in the area, namely Williams Field and Pegasus Field, the Ice Runway was developed for passenger transportation in order to free up the capacity for cargo space brought by the C17 aircraft. It can handle wheeled aircraft, including the Boeing 757. While pilots say that the surface is as stable as cement during landing, the problem occurs when the plane comes to a stop as it can sink the ice, though only in inches.
6. Courchevel Airport, France
Courchevel Airport is an airport that serves the ski area in the French Alps. It has an upslope runway that is adjacent to a popular area for ski runs. Aircrafts cannot make landings during fogs or low clouds because of the airport’s lack of instrument approach procedures. Its runway measures only 525 meters long. It primarily serves only small fixed winged aircrafts and helicopters. The airfield itself has an elevation of 6,588 meters.
5. Barra International Airport, Scotland
Barra International Airport is also known as the Barra Eoligarry Airport. It is located in Barra Island in Outer Hebrides in Scotland. It is the only airport in the world that actually uses a beach as a runway. When high tide comes, the runways actually go under the sea. Thus, flights are scheduled based on the tide. The airport has short runways, with three runways forming a triangle marked by permanent wooden poles at the ends. Small aircrafts like Twin Otters can land into the wind.
4. Toncontin International Airport, Honduras
Toncontin International Airport is also known as the Teniente Coronel Hernan Acosta Mejia Airport. It is located in Tegucigalpa in Honduras and serves both civilian and military aircrafts. It has a short runway and is extremely close to mountain terrains. Its runways are significantly shorter than other international airports, despite recent efforts to extend its length. The single asphalt runway measures only 2,163 meters and sits at an elevation of 1,005 meters.
3. Tenzing Hillary Airport, Nepal
Tenzing Hillary Airport is also known as Lukia Airport. It is named after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first people to reach the peak of Mount Everest. It is located in the place where hikers begin their climb to the base camp of Mount Everest. It is almost always beset with high winds and cloud cover, making visibility unpredictable even though the skies may be clear and the sun is shining in the capital of Kathmandu. The runway measures only 460 meters and can only accommodate small planes and helicopters. Due to the terrain, arriving planes can use only one runway. Departing aircrafts use another.
2. Madeira Airport, Portugal
Madeira Airport is also known as Santa Catarina Airport or Funchal Airport. It is located in Madeira Island in Portugal. The ocean and high mountains surround the runway. Once infamous for its short runway, Portuguese authorities were able to double it through outstanding engineering. Instead of reclaiming land from the sea, they decided to build a series of 180 columns measuring 70 meters tall. The ingenuity shown in extending the runway earned the airport recognition from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.
1. Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar
Gibraltar International Airport is a civilian airport in the British territory of Gibraltar. The airport’s runway intersects with Winston Churchill Avenue, the main road leading to the border with Spain. Traffic therefore has to be stopped every time a plane lands or departs. The terminal features the scenic Rock of Gibraltar in its background. Though considered a British territory in which the ownership is disputed by Spain, the airport is also widely used by people going to or coming from the nearby Spanish areas of Costa del Sol and Campo de Gibraltar.
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