Princess Juliana International Airport (Saint Martin)
Princess Juliana International Airport serves Saint Maarten, the Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin. It is the second busiest airport in the Eastern Caribbean. The airport is famous for its short landing strip — only 2,180 metres/7,152 ft, which is barely enough for heavy jets. Because of this, the planes approach the island flying extremely low, right over Maho Beach. Countless photos of large jets flying at 10–20 m/30-60 ft over relaxing tourists at the beach have been dismissed as fakes many times, but are nevertheless real. For this reason as well it has become a favourite for planespotters. Despite the difficulties in approach, there has been no records of major aviation incidents at the airport.
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (Saba)
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is the only airport on the Caribbean island of Saba, in the Netherlands Antilles. It is well known among experienced fliers for the way in which airplanes must approach or take off from the airport.
Yrausquin Airport covers a relatively large portion of the small island of Saba. Some aviation experts are of the general opinion that the airport is one of the most dangerous in the world, despite the fact that no major tragedies have happened at the facility. The airport’s sole runway is marked with an X at each end, to indicate to commercial pilots that the airport is closed for commercial aviation.
The danger arises from the airport’s physical position. It is flanked on one side by high hills, and on the other side and at both ends of the runway by cliffs dropping into the sea. This creates the possibility that an airplane might overshoot the runway during landing or takeoff and end up in the sea or on the cliffs.
Courchevel is the name of a ski area located in the French Alps, the largest linked ski area in the world. It’s airport has a certain degree of infamy in the aviation industry as home to a relatively short runway, with a length of 525 m (1,722 ft) and a gradient of 18.5%. It’s so short that you have to land on an inclined strip to slow down and take off on a decline to pick up enough speed.
Who gets to land here? Well, Pierce Brosnan made the short list. This was the airport used in the opening seen of Tomorrow Never Dies. For the rest of us, private plane, helicopter, or charter are the only ways to go, and your pilot is going to need some serious training before he or she is allowed to land at CVF.
Gustaf III Airport (St. Bart)
Gustaf III Airport also known as Saint Barthélemy Airport is a public use airport located in the village of St. Jean on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy. Both the airport and the island’s main town of Gustavia are named for King Gustav III of Sweden, under whom Sweden obtained the island from France in 1785 (it was sold back to France in 1878). The airport is served by small regional commercial aircraft and charters. Most visiting aircraft carry fewer than twenty passengers, such as the Twin Otter, a common sight around Saint Barth and throughout the northern West Indies. The short airstrip is at the base of a gentle slope ending directly on the beach. The arrival descent is extremely steep over the hilltop traffic circle and departing planes fly right over the heads of sunbathers (although small signs advise sunbathers not to lie directly at the end of the runway).
Barra International Airport (Barra)
Barra Airport is the only airport in the world where planes land on the beach. BRR is situated in on the wide beach of Traigh Mhor, on Barra island, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. If you want to fly here commercially you will want to book with British Airways, which flies to Barra from Glasgow and Benbecula.
The airport is literally washed away by the tide once a day, and if you arrive on a late afternoon flight, you may notice a couple of cars in the parking lot with their lights on, which provides pilots some added visibility, since the airport is naturally lit. Needless to say you probably don’t want to hang out at Barra Airport beach, unless you are a aviation junkie, in which case Barra Airport has a fool proof system, as sign that reads: “Keep off the beach. When the windsock is flying and the airport is active.”
Madeira Airport (Madeira)
Madeira Airport also known as Funchal Airport and Santa Catarina Airport, is an international airport located near Funchal, Madeira. The airport controls national and international air traffic of the island of Madeira.
The airport was once infamous for its short runway which, surrounded by high mountains and the ocean, made it a tricky landing for even the most experienced of pilots. The original runway was only 1,400 metres in length, but was extended by 400 metres after the TAP Air Portugal Flight 425 incident of 1977 and subsequently rebuilt in 2003, almost doubling the size of the runway, building it out over the ocean. Instead of using landfill, the extension was built on a series of 180 columns, each being about 70m tall.
For the enlargement of the new runway the Funchal Airport has won the Outstanding Structures Award, given by International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE). The Outstanding Structures Award is considered to be the “Oscar” for engineering structures in Portugal.
Lukla Airport (Nepal)
A huge mountain on one end, a thousand meter drop on the other. And it’s at 2900 meters elevation, so you don’t exactly have full power.
Lukla Airport is a small airport in the Town of Lukla in eastern Nepal. In January 2008, the government of Nepal announced that the airport would be renamed in honor of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, who passed away on January 11, 2008. The airport is quite popular as Lukla is the place where most people start their trek to climb Mount Everest.