As with everything nowadays, health and safety is of the upmost importance and there’sgenerally red tape around everything. However, the same can’t be said for some specific airports around the world. With extremely short landing strips, highly dangerous positions and weather conditions to boot, it’s every worried passenger’s nightmare but every daring pilots dream to be landing in one of these:
Built on the steep incline of a hillside, Lukla is Nepal’s busiest domestic airport with a landing strip of a mere 450m and a staggering 12% incline. Landing in Lukla leaves no room for error; the strip stands at an elevated 2800m on an abrupt hillside which drops to a river valley below. The approach is often cluttered with clouds and takes an experienced pilot to meander through surrounding mountain peaks. Lukla is a popular place as many mountaineers begin their trek to Everest base camp and the Khumbu from here, and sometimes operates over 50 flights a day.
Courchevel, French Alps.
Famous for featuring in Pierce Brosnan’s ‘Tomorrow never dies’, James Bond fans may recognise this chilling runway. As if the terrifying vertical drop at the end of the tarmac wasn’t enough, team it together with freezing conditions, black ice and heavy snow and you’ve got a runway from hell! Arriving by helicopter, private plane or charter are the only ways to go, and quite frankly, any pilot brave enough to face this challenge deserves a pat on the back. Unlike anywhere else, if your legs can withstand it, you are given the opportunity to go for a quick ski after disembarking.
A challenge for pilots and a love of spotters, Toncontin Int’l airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is situated in a basin between several tall mountains and allows spectacular approaches and, what some might say, interesting landings. It has seen many accidents over its years, some killing as many as 123 passengers. Being the second smallest international airport in the world, its runway is extremely short and on occasion, surrounding traffic is stopped due to the low-flying aircrafts.
One of the smallest in the world, St. Barts airport has a landing strip to match, standing at just 2,133ft long. It’s flight path passes just 20 feet above the road on the hilltop above the airport. Despite its dangers, there have been only 2 fatal accidents at the airport over the years. The airport’s runway starts where the beach finishes and aircrafts come dangerously close to daring sun-worshippers relaxing on the beach. A paradise for plane spotters who can sit on the beach with a cocktail in hand and just wait for a plane to come in.
Princess Juliana Int’l airport, St.Martin.
As the second busiest airport in the Caribbean, Princess Juliana airport offers frightening and unforgettable landings….especially if you are laid on the beach. As a low approach is necessary, when a plane comes in towards the runway, beachgoers are shocked by the deafening sound and powerful winds which shake the waters….to the delight of plane spotters.