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These Are The Most Dangerous Airports Ever Built

Traveling can be stressful, no matter who you are. Whether you’re traveling for leisure, work, or anything else, there are a ton of different tasks you have to accomplish before you can take flight. Most of these tasks, from packing your suitcases to managing connecting flights, are exhaustive.

But consider this, sometimes the airport itself is challenging, especially for those who work there. Even the most experienced pilots have run into problems trying to take off the runway from the airports on this list. This list details the most alarming airports in the world, with dangers ranging from dangerously too-short runways to major construction fails.

1. Courchevel Airport – France
Year of construction: 1962
Risk factors: Location of runway

This airport, located in the middle of the French Alps, is used to access the Courchevel ski resort. It is located 6,588 feet above sea level, and its runway measures just 1,761 feet. This short runway prevents pilots from last-minute, necessary maneuvering.

Furthermore, Courchevel airport has no lighting, which makes landing considerably difficult on foggy, rainy, or snowy days. To make matters worse, it is built between the snowy mountains, which causes a problem for planes trying to approach and descend.

2. Barra International Airport – Scotland
Year of construction: 1936
Risk factors: Track on the beach

This airport, which is located north of the island of Barra, is the only one in the world where takeoffs and landings take place on the beach. This, first of all, means that all air operations are easily affected by the tide.

The beach that serves as the airstrip is open to the public, so people should check if the airport is in operation before visiting. The beach at this airport is also often visited by seals, and the airport staff frequently have to escort the seals back to the sea to avoid accidents.

3. Princess Juliana International Airport – Saint Martin
Year of construction: 1942
Risk factors: Closeness of airplanes

This busy airport has a strange feature, where its planes fly barely 82 feet above the beach. In fact, the aircraft passes so close to the ground that the local government has warned tourists to stay at a safe distance during take-off and landing.

This is due to the possibility of a too-close sightseer being thrown into the sea or sucked into a turbine. During its years of operation, this airport has been the site of four accidents that have had devastating consequences.

4. Male International Airport – Maldives
Year of construction: 1960
Risk factors: Runway size

The Maldives Islands airport is located on the island of Hulhule. Its main problem is the size of its runway, which is so small that it occupies the entire length of the island. Any miscalculation can easily lead the plane to the sea.

Another unusual feature of this busy airport is that, once its planes manage to land, passengers usually have to take speedboats to get to where they are going in the Maldives. Otherwise, they’ll be stuck waiting for hours.

5. Kai Tak Airport – Hong Kong
Year of construction: 1925
Risk factors: Surrounded by buildings

Landing at Kai Tak Airport was challenging even for skilled pilots. The airport was surrounded by tall buildings, and airplanes passed so close to the buildings that passengers felt they could peek into the offices. To make matters worse, the track was built on the sea, and it was far too narrow and short.

It is not difficult to imagine why passengers referred to this airport as “Heart Attack Airport.” Kai Tak was the site of no less than fifteen accidents before it was shut down in 1998 because of how dangerous it was.

6. Cristiano Ronaldo Airport – Madeira, Portugal
Year of construction: 1973
Risk factors: Track built on the sea

Some describe Cristiano Ronaldo Airport as an engineering marvel. For others, it is a danger. The island of Madeira is so small that the runway of his airport had to be expanded over the sea. For this expansion, 180 pillars were built that hold the track over the water.

The strong winds on the island, as well as the narrow airstrip, make the maneuvers that the pilots carry out very complex. In fact, all those in charge of taking off or landing a plane on the island of Madeira must receive special training.

7. Congonhas Airport – São Paulo, Brazil
Year of construction: 1936
Risk factors: Closeness of the airplanes

The main problem with the Congonhas airport is that, being as it’s located in a residential area in the center of São Paulo, it is surrounded by buildings. This causes pilots to have to be particularly careful when maneuvering during takeoff and landing.

As if that were not enough, its track is considered one of the slipperiest in existence, due to the inefficient drainage systems in the area. Unfortunately, this airport has seen several accidents. One of them occurred in 2007, and it caused the authorities to decide to expan

8. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – Saba Island
Year of construction: 1963
Risk factors: Shortest runway in the world

This airport is known as the most dangerous in existence, since it has the shortest runway in the world. It’s just 1,300 feet! In addition to the fact that its length makes takeoff and landing very difficult, the airport is located on the edge of a cliff.

This means that any mistake in the calculations could easily lead an aircraft into the sea or onto the rocks below the cliff. For this reason, jets cannot take off or land at this airport. Propeller planes, on the other hand, can make use of the facilities without major problems.

9. Gibraltar Airport – United Kingdom
Year of construction: 1939
Risk factors: Track intersects the road

Gibraltar Airport is considered the most dangerous in Europe after Madeira. The reason? It is the only one in the world whose runway meets the road, and at the same level! This is because the airport made maximum use of its minimal space.

So, when a plane is close, highway traffic stops to give way to the aircraft. This means that any traffic accident could affect the takeoff or landing of the planes. At this airport, what was saved in space is lost in security.

10. Gustaf III Airport – San Bartolomé
Year of construction: 1984
Risk factors: Short runway, near the beach

This airport’s strange feature is that it only provides its services from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In addition, it can only be used by small airplanes of no more than 20 passengers, since its location would considerably complicate the take-off and landing of larger aircrafts.

The track, only 2,133 feet long, is located between a hill and a beach. This means that pilots must be very careful when they maneuver. And, tourists on the beach should also be careful; there are even signs that warn them not to sunbathe near the base of the track.

11. Scíathos International Airport – Greece
Year of construction: 1972
Risk factors: Location, short runway

Skiathos Airport in Greece has the shortest runway in Europe. In addition, the uneven terrain of the island means that the airport was built over the sea. In fact, the airstrip links the island of Skiathos with that of Lazareta.

This airport does not accept all types of airplanes, since the largest planes need more space to take off and land. Another quirk of this airport is how close it is to the highway. Many motorists can easily see planes taking off at a short (and somewhat terrifying) distance.

12. Toncontin International Airport – Honduras
Year of construction: 1921
Risk factors: Closeness to the mountains and road

Toncontin Airport is so dangerous that commercial airline pilots who operate there have to undergo special training for takeoffs and landings. The main risk involved is that Toncontin’s track, in addition to being very short, is too close to the mountains and the road.

Sadly, there have been at least ten serious accidents at Toncontin. The best known of them, which happened in 2008, occurred when a plane failed to stop after landing. The aircraft went off the runway and fell onto the road, colliding with several cars.

13. Paro International Airport – Bhutan
Year of construction: 1968
Risk factors: Closeness to the mountain, weather conditions

Paro International Airport is so dangerous that there are fewer than 24 pilots who are trained and authorized to use it. This airport only operates from sunrise to sunset, and its main danger is that it is surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains.

In addition, due to the weather conditions of the area, the runway (which is very short, by the way), is only visible to the pilots moments before they land on the ground. Before landing, pilots also have to watch out for the utility poles and houses that surround the landing zone.

14. Tenzing-Hillary Airport – Nepal
Year of construction: 1964
Risk factors: Altitude

This small airport is popular because it is located at the same place where the vast majority of people begin their ascent to Everest Base Camp. Very often, fog, winds, and poor visibility end up delaying flights or even causing the airport to close for the day.

One of the main risks posed by this airport is that it is surrounded by mountains, and the altitude at which the airport is located is so high that aircraft engines sometimes have difficulty obtaining the oxygen they need during take-off acceleration.

15. Gisborne Airport – New Zealand
Year of construction: 1960
Risk factors: Track intersects with train tracks

The operations carried out at this airport look like something out of an action movie, as the main runway crosses the tracks of a working train. This means that all takeoffs and landings must be carefully coordinated with train schedules.


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