While normal plane landings are enough to create churn in your stomach, landing on airports listed below is nothing less than a thrilling experience. These risky but exciting airport runways have narrow edges, sharp turns and landing here is all about battling nothing but the mountains, winds and seas!
Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh, India
Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe Airport is one of the highest commercial airports in the world that stands at 3,256 m (10,682 ft) above the sea level. Located at a high altitude, most flights take off and land in the mornings due to the presence of mountain winds in the afternoon. The airport runway is unidirectional that makes landings challenging as it has high terrain towards the eastern end of the airport.
Courchevel Airport, Courchevel, France
The Courchevel runway is as tricky as its name. It has an uphill runway of 1722 feet while the other side of the runway has a plain vertical drop, off the side of the mountain. You can also catch a glimpse of the airport in the opening scene of the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.
Princess Juliana International Airport, Netherlands
This is the only airport from where planes fly very low, mostly over the tourists present on the Maho beach located just a few steps away from the airport runway. The runway length is very short (7150 feet), and planes fly over the beach at minimal altitude. The take-off also involves a sharp turn to the right, more like a U-turn to avoid the mountains at the end of the runway.
Barra International Airport, Barra, Scotland
The airport is located on the Outer Hebridean Island of Barra and the planes land directly on the beach. The landings mostly depend on the tides- during high tides, the runway is completely underwater. Car headlights are a rescue, providing additional lighting when there is decreased visibility.
Hechi Airport, China
The airport is located in China’s Guangxi province that was built on the top of 65 mountains and 2200 feet above sea level. Engineers later levelled off the mountain tops and created a 1.4 mile-long and 150 feet wide runway that has a 1000 feet sheer drop on one side.
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Netherlands
The Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is the only airport on the Dutch Caribbean island Saba and is surrounded by steep hills on one side and numerous cliffs on the other side. The airport has a high possibility of overshooting the runway, which if even happens, can end up the plane in the ocean.
Male International Airport, Maldives
As beautiful as the island of Maldives is, the Males International Airport is equally scary. Built on an ‘atoll’, it has one runway that is just six feet above sea level. It’s like, a small miscalculation can send the plane steering its way off into the Indian Ocean.
Wilkins Runway, Antarctica
This airport runway is made completely of ice and landing here is like skating through the ice into the airport. The airport is carved into glacial ice and is operational in summer in the Antarctic. The image below speaks for itself.