An ideal location for an airport is endless flat ground, favorable winds, and great visibility; but in reality, the world lacks such ideal locations. Hence, engineers are forced to work with what they have and make sure they have created the safest possible structures.

After a lot of hard work that goes into making an airport with limited resources, it is bound to be called an architectural marvel, and most of them indeed are. However, some airports, despite their amazing structures are considered dangerous, most likely due to their topographical placements; when they are nestled in rocky mountains, unpredictable climatic changes that surround them, or short runways, like in most cases. Pilots have to face grave challenges for successful landings and takeoffs of the aircraft. It may seem thrilling and adventurous for us, but a lot of accuracy and sound technical knowledge is required to overcome these serious hurdles.

In this Buzzle article, explore the world’s most dangerous airports.

Most Dangerous Airports In The World

#1 Ice Runway
Ice Runway
Where: Ross Island, Antarctica
Why is it Dangerous:Ice Runway is one of the major airstrips out of the three in the continent that helps researchers get to Antarctica’s McMurdo Station. There are no paved runways; just long stretches of ice. Since there is no human settlement there, the station has ample amounts of space for super-sized aircraft to make their landings. However, the problem is that the weight of the aircraft can cause the plane to sink into the soft snow. Therefore, it is a challenge for pilots to get the correct judgment while landing the aircraft. During early December, when the ice begins to break, the aircraft are directed to the other two runways, which serve the continent.
#2 Madeira International Airport
madeira-international-airport
Where: Madeira, Portugal
Why is it Dangerous:Madeira International Airport controls national and international traffic of the small island Madeira, which is a little away from the Portugal coast. The airport was once surrounded by high mountains and had shorter runways, which posed a problem for even the most experienced pilots while landing. Later however, the runway was extended. It was built on a series of 180 columns, the height of each being 70 meters. The airport is considered to be an architectural marvel and has won an award for the same. Yet, this airport is considered dangerous for its singular approach and comparatively short runway, even today.
#3 Kansai International Airport
kansai-international-airport
Where: Osaka, Japan
Why is it Dangerous:Although the infrastructure of the airport seems to be impressive, it definitely accounts as one of the most dangerous airports too. The airport is built in the Osaka Bay. Engineers have however taken into consideration the various threats like earthquakes, dangerous cyclones, and an unstable seabed and only then gone ahead to build this structure. But today, the changes in climate and the rising sea levels can pose a real threat to the airport’s very existence. If the temperature happens to rise with such a rapid pace, some meteorological consultants warn that this airport might submerge in the next 50 years.
#4 Lukla Airport
lukla-airport
Where: Khumbu, Nepal
Why is it Dangerous: The Lukla Airport is surrounded by huge mountain terrain, thin air, and highly unpredictable climate. Apart from all these shortcomings, the short, sloping runway of the airport makes a pilot’s job all the more challenging. Due to the changeable weather, sometimes flights are delayed or the airport is closed for the day. Some pretty nasty accidents have occurred ever since its inception; however, in the recent one on October 12, 2010, a Sita Air Dornier Do 228lost braking control during landing and damaged its nose. Thankfully, all the passengers and crew members survived without any injuries.
#5 Princess Juliana International Airport
princess-juliana-international-airport
Where: St. Maarten
Why is it Dangerous:Princess Juliana International Airport is famous for its short landing strip. Due to this, the planes approach the island flying extremely low; right over the beach. Also, while landing, the plane makes an incredible amount of noise. Despite all these challenges, there have been no major accidents at the airport. However, with such an infrastructure, it is very likely that the pilots may misinterpret the altitude, which can lead to erroneous landings and takeoffs.
#6 Toncontin International Airport
toncontin-international-airport
Where: Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Why is it Dangerous:Toncontin International Airport is a civil as well as a military airport. This airport is built on a plateau in the city and boasts of a short runway. As the airport is surrounded by mountains, the pilots have to weave through them to approach the runway. Moreover, the planes have to take a last-second 45-degree turn, for successful landings. It is a tricky landing for any pilot, but on successful landings, they are definitely considered heroes.
#7 Aspen-Pitkin County Airport
aspen-pitkin-county-airport
Where: Colorado, United States
Why is it Dangerous:Aspen-Pitkin County Airport is nestled in the Rocky Mountains, which makes landing tremendously difficult. Pilots are sometimes forced to make high-angle descents due to the topography of the airport, leading to many nasty accidents. Such rapid descents change the air pressure in the cabin, resulting in discomfort among the passengers and in some cases, damaging the nose of the aircraft. The airport is undergoing a runway extension project to fight all these hurdles and it is expected to be completed by November 30, 2011.
#8 Barra International Airport
barra-international-airport
Where: Barra, Scotland
Why is it Dangerous:The Barra International Airport is unique in a way that it is the only airport where planes land on a beach. There are three runways, each marked by wooden poles at their ends. During high tides, the runways are underwater; therefore, the flight timings vary with the tides. Moreover, if you happen to land in the evening or if there is an emergency landing at nighttime (since the airport is not licensed for night use), a couple of cars’ lights are used to illuminate the strip and the reflectors laid on the runway.
#9 Gustaf III Airport
gustaf-airport
Where: St. Bart
Why is it Dangerous: Gustaf III Airport akaSaint Barthélemy Airport or St. Jean Airport is located on the Caribbean Islands. This is a small airport with a short runway which is surrounded by mountains, both these aspects being major hurdles of flying. The runway begins at the base of a gentle slope of the hilltop and at its end, lies St. Jean Beach. The arrival of the planes is extremely steep. Which is why, only experienced pilots are required to land the aircraft. Also, the ground clearance is so low, that planes taking off have the tendency of flying over the heads of sunbathers (of course, sunbathers on the beach are advised not to lie at the end of the runway).
#10 Shimla Airport
shimla-airport
Where: Shimla, India
Why is it Dangerous:The Shimla Airport is situated 6988 feet above sea level, therefore, this airport has also made it to the list of the most dangerous airports in the world. The airport sits in the crest of huge mountains and changing climate. The weather here is foggy; for more than half of the year, pilots have to face tricky landings while flying the airplanes in and out of this airport. Moreover, during heavy rains, there is every possibility that the aircraft may skid, miss the runway, or crash into the mountains. Due to such tight conditions, only smaller airplanes are allowed to land here.
#11 Courchevel Airport
courchevel-airport
Where: Courchevel, France
Why is it Dangerous:Courchevel Airport is located in the French Alps; the largest linked ski area in the world. This airport is home to a relatively shorter runway, about 1700 feet long, and has a large hill towards the middle of the strip. The runway is so short that pilots have to land on an inclined strip to slow down the aircraft’s speed, while the pilot has to takeoff on a decline to gather enough speed for a successful take off. Pilots are required to obtain certification before they even attempt to conquer this dangerous runway.
#12 Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport
Ice Runway
Where: Saba, Netherlands
Why is it Dangerous:Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, situated on the Caribbean Island of Saba, is famous for having the shortest runway in the world; about 1300 feet long. In addition to that, the topography of this airport is such that it is flanked by high hills on one side with the runway’s ends dropping into the sea. This creates a possibility that an airplane can face major problems while landing or during a takeoff. It can either wind up in the sea or crash into the mountains. Hence, serious training is required for the pilots to successfully takeoff and land the airplanes.
#13 Paro Airport
paro-airport
Where: Paro, Bhutan
Why is it Dangerous:Paro Airport is situated in a deep valley on the banks of the river, Paro, at an elevation of 7300 feet. The airport is flanked by high peaks on all sides, making it one of the most challenging airports in the world. Only eight pilots around the world have been certified to land at this airport, as it requires accurate judgment and unique flying skills. The airplanes at Paro are allowed only during the daytime, as it is dangerous to negotiate the Himalayan mountains and icy peaks during nighttime.

This was all about the world’s dangerous airports. What a challenge it is for the pilots to land or even takeoff from any of these airports! How exhilarating it must be to be a pilot and come out as a hero everyday after each successful landing and takeoff, despite the unavoidable hurdles.

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