When it comes to travel long distances, flying on the plane is the easiest and quickest way to reach your destination. The flat stretches of runway are not going to be available in some places. This way, the pilots should be well skilled and talented to land of runway which sticks out from the mountain which seems to appear in narrow valley. Today, we are going to discuss the most extreme, hairiest, scariest and dangerous airport landings. We have listed the airports which are considered dangerous as they are located at tough approaches, high altitudes or short runways, that make landings tough and challenging.
Here are the most dangerous airports worldwide to land at –
10. Lukla Airport, Nepal
Located in Nepal, Lukla Airport serves as the prominent airport for the mountaineers going for expedition to climb the mighty Mt. Everest. The airport is nestled around the mountains making landing more difficult in an incredibly short runway. It has low electricity and lights. It makes landing even riskier. The site has no air traffic controllers and radar.
So, pilots are on the mercy of their skills and experience to land at these airports. It is renamed as Tenzing-Hillary Airport after the two men who first climbed Mt. Everest. This airport is frequented by mostly mountaineers. The take-off and landing are very short here. The airport operates around 8000 ft. above the sea level and it doesn’t have modern air traffic control systems. It doesn’t even have lights and has very little electricity.
9. Courchevel International Airport, France
A video of landing in this airport was gone viral previous year. It has only 525m long runway, which is the shortest of all runways in any airport. Along with this, the paved runway has 18.5% down gradient. So, take off is even more challenging here. To make landing even more difficult, the runway is centrally built into the Alps Mountains, where pilots fly along the narrow valleys just to be ready for descent. In case the aircraft is failed to gain enough speed till the runway ends, they just fly off the edge of mountains and hope for the best. For landing, pilots have to navigate along the mountain which is enough to give you the Goosebumps and planes have to touch down at tending angles to slow down.
8. Toncontin Airport, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Navigating through the cliffs is one of the few hurdles to deal with the safe landing at Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This airport has a lot of strikes. It is located in a valley which is around 1000m (3294 ft.) above the sea level. In descent, planes have to get 45 degrees back to reach the 7000 ft. runway in a valley. Passengers feel a quick decrease in altitude because of its nearest mountainous terrain so that the plane can line up with its runway. Frequent winds may complicate the matters because pilots have to make a lot of last-moment changes.
Airports located in mountains are literally very difficult for landing because of the short approaches and variant terrain. Toncontin airport is no exception. In order to prepare for descent for the planes, they have to take steep bank turn to access the runway. After the bank, planes have to drop in altitude rapidly and avoid scraping the terrain underneath.
7. Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten
It is perhaps the most popular airport in this list and most remarkable for public beach located before the runway. This placement gives loud and large gusts of sand and wind to the ones enjoying crystal blue seawater. There are fewer chances to hit the visitors for the pilots because the runway is just 2179m long, which is too short to serve the large airport where landing needs up to 2500m runway for safe landing. Initially, it was built for smaller aircrafts. But 747s and A340s have been brought in its routine traffic rotation, thanks to the evolving tourist industry.
6. Paro Airport, Bhutan
Paro Airport is consistently ranked among the most dangerous airports in the world because it is located in the Himalayan Mountains. It is so dangerous that only 8 well-qualified and experienced pilots managed to land safely on this strip till date. The runway is just 1981m long and is fully covered by 5500m peaks. Because of fast descent, large planes have to approach the strip and it has been ranked as one of the most dangerous airports in the world.
5. McMurdo Air Station, Antarctica
Antarctica is one of the most barren countries in the world where most people don’t visit. So, airport infrastructure is tremendously lacking. The runway is not short, but it is because of slick ice due to which planes runs crooked if landing is not ideal. Here temperatures go below freezing point the entire year on average. It caused a worst crash of C-121 in 1970 which sits off the side which was buried in snow. It is consistently dark in several months of the year. Because of low lights, pilots use night vision goggles to land at this airport.
4. Gibraltar International
Though this runway is not that hard for landing, it features an appealing design which makes it truly risky. Winston Churchill Avenue, the main street intersects runway which needs to be closed when plane lands. It has stoplight to tell car drivers to stop.
3. Madeira Airport
It is one of the few airports in the world where engineers designed a platform to expand. The landing strip is positioned between the shores and steep cliffs. When designers were planning the expansion project, they found only one option which is to make a series of platforms on a manmade island which extends from the runway. The runway is held by around 180 columns which have to hold some serious shock loading on landings.
2. MCAS Futenma, Okinawa
The airport is located in US Marine Corps Air Station, Okinawa Japan. It has been ranked as the most extreme and dangerous airport in the world by the Marine Corps and the Navy where V22 Osprey and F/A-18 Hornets land consistently. The area is literally very important for US Military which is why it maintains its operation. This airport is so risky because of high density residences located in this area that it must be cleared in emergency situations.
1. LaGuardia Airport, New York City, U.S.A
The 7000ft runways are located over the water, giving panoramic city views while landing. LaGuardia Airport’s runways were extended later. Gliding over the Bowery and Flushing Bays is not that thrilling. But pilots have to avoid interfering with other flights from other busy airports around – Newark and JFK. It is located only 8 miles from Midtown Manhattan.