source: wikipedia

Wild and Scary Runways

A few weeks ago I posted an entry that included of a cool photo of a plane taking off at the St. Maarten airport.  The plane looked dangerously close to the beach and this got me thinking about other possibly wild, scary and slightly dangerous runways.  Quito, Ecuador has been a nailbiter for me at times, but that is nothing compared to others out there.  Here are just a few from many interesting runways:

1. St. Maarten

copyright: Fran Jurado /
copyright: Fran Jurado /

Widebody jetliners fly over popular Maho Beach barely skimming a perimeter fence.  The beach has become a tourist attraction with spectators stopping by just for the experience of having a jet fly over their heads or being blown off the beach into the ocean by departing flights.  Check out the video here

2. Tegucigalpa, Honduras

source: wikimedia
source: wikipedia

After navigating through mountain terrain, planes drop a few hundred feet and then take a sharp U-turn before landing at Toncontin airport.  You’ll definitely want to be buckled in tight for this ride.  Here’s a video.

3. Lukla, Nepal

photographer: Mathias /
copyright: Mathias /

What sounds more fun….trying to land on a short uphill runway or taking off on a downhill slope that (if you haven’t picked up enough speed) you just drop off.  Sounds like the Himalayan version of Six Flags amusement park.

4. Barra, Scotland

source: wikipedia
source: wikipedia

This airport is one of two in the world that use the beach as a runway.  There are three runways, each identifiable by wooden poles at the end. The tricky part here, besides landing on sand, is that the flight times can vary with the tide.  Fun!

5. Runways that are not meant to be runways

This is probably the scariest runway of them all, but it is also what makes travel fun!

Whether you’re the pilots trying to land the plane or the passengers in the back praying for a safe landing, I’m sure you’ve had your own adventures in flying.   Share them in comments.

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  • I used to work at a Mine in Northern Ontario and the runway was gravel. In the winter you landed on snow. There were times that the plane would fly all the way North to find the runway was in bad condition and fly all the way back to the city airport. We would then have to wait until the runway was conditioned to attempt again.

  • landing at the former Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong was always an exciting experience. You used to get so close to surrounding buildings you could watch TV from the window seat into some guy’s neighbouring flat. It was 1990 I had this experience…sometimes I miss that quaint little airport, although I’ve flown in & out of the current HKIA several times & enjoy it quite a bit.

  • The St Maartin airport is not the problem (providing your pilot climbs fast enough on the flight out to not hit the mountains). It’s the people, read this: I was accosted within three minutes of pointing my camera in the direction of the nude beach area, Orient Beach (no nudes within 500 feet).

  • What about the runway in Gibraltar? It intersects with the main road of the peninsula, everytime a plane lands they have to close the road.


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