What makes an airport scary? It’s a good question. Perhaps it’s filthy bathrooms or armed guards walking around with massive weapons (Cancun International, I’m talking about you) or maybe it’s a terminal without a Starbucks when you’re catching a 6 am flight. Or maybe it’s the fact that some airports have runways so short that it seems your takeoff and/or landing are doomed from the start. Read on to find out which of the world’s airports are the scariest.
Juancho E Yrausquin Airport, Saba
This runway is not only situated atop a hill overlooking the Caribbean Sea, it’s only 1300 feet long. It drops abruptly into the sea on three sides and has hills on the other. Commercial jets are not permitted to land here because of the short runway and dangerous conditions.
John Wayne Airport, California
Though Orange County is one of the most beautiful locations in the state, taking off from John Wayne is a bit scary – trust me, I’ve departed this airport numerous times. Due to noise ordinances in Orange County, pilots are required to take off at a rapid pace and take flight quickly before cutting off the engines to prevent the plane from making noise when it flies over the homes of the locals.
Courchevel Airport, France
The French Alps might be beautiful, and it might seem like a great idea to be able to ski in and out of the airport, but it’s a dangerous place to land and take off. The upslope of the runways makes it difficult for airplanes, and the weather conditions are known to change rapidly for the worse.
Nantucket Memorial Airport
The fog is so thick at this darling little airport that it often requires pilots to do something they don’t really like to do; use their instruments as their only means of landing. Since they often cannot see the runway because of the fog, pilots landing here must have absolute trust and certainty in their plane’s instrument panels.
Toncontin International Airport, Honduras
Not only is runway 02 in Honduras one of the shortest runways for commercial jets in the world, it’s also got a bevy of other undesirable aspects. The mountainous terrain in the area is so bad that planes can only reach the runway by making a very sharp turn at the last minute, and there are horrible wind gusts here thanks to the airport’s altitude.
Princess Juliana Airport, St. Maarten
St. Maarten is one of the most beautiful Caribbean islands around, but you’ll probably want to check it out via cruise ship if you’re not a fan of scary take-offs and landings. Maho Beach is one of the most famous on St. Maarten, and it is adjacent to the airport. Since the runway is so short on Runway 10, aircrafts flying into the airport have to touch down as soon as possible if they want to stop in time. This means that you’ll fly so low over the beach, you’ll think you’re about to take out all the sunbathers beneath you.
Wilkins Runway, Antarctica
If the other airports on this list don’t terrify you, this one will. Located in Antarctica, the runway is made of ice. It’s not a public runway. It’s used only to transport scientists to and from the area, and it’s only available for use during the Antarctic summers.
Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Nepal
The airport here sits in the midst of the Himalayas, at 9,000 feet altitude. Not only does this make it difficult for pilots to land thanks to the high winds, it’s subject to rough visibility and cloud cover. The runway for takeoff is only 1500 feet long and sits at a 12 percent incline. At 2000 feet, it ends and drops abruptly into a body of water.
Barra International Airport, Scotland
Here’s a runway that ought to scare anyone trying to get to this island. The runway doesn’t actually exist. Planes land on the beach, which means that it’s impossible to land at high-tide, seeing as how the beach actually disappears beneath the ocean.
Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar
Imagine flying into this airport during rush hour. Rush hour in the air might not have the same meaning as rush hour on the ground, but this airport runway is one that makes no sense. Whoever decided that bisecting an airport runway with the busiest street in town must have been an adventurous soul. Surrounded by water on both sides, the Gibraltar airstrip also intersects the busiest road in the city, which means pilots have to worry about traffic. As if worrying about traffic in a car wasn’t bad enough, now you have to worry about it on a plane.
Matekane Air Strip, South Africa
Taking off from the Matekane Air Strip is the single most terrifying thing you will ever experience in your life. This 1300 foot long runway is not long enough for planes to reach the necessary speed for takeoff. It’s situated 7500 feet in the air and the end of the runway is also the edge of a cliff with a 2000 foot drop. Since planes cannot reach their required speed, they often drive right off the runway and take flight after falling.