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You get to buy the ticket so why do you choose to be sent by the pilot head first into hills, mountains, fog and apartment blocks? It’s not as though you have a say about the manner in which you land as you’re strapped in 20 rows back. Enjoy the view.

San Diego

If you check Google Maps before you land in San Diego International-Lindbergh Field you’ll make the most of the landscape as the pilot suddenly dips the airplane at the very last moment to allow for the lower level of the landing strip. With downtown on the left and Coronado Bridge on the right, you’ll see where the Star of India (the world’s oldest ship) docks. Looking right you’ll be able to see flamingos and giraffes at the San Diego Zoo.

Madeira

The World’s Scariest Airport Landings

At Madeira, the airport’s runway was too short, causing some pilots real problems. It was extended over enormous pillars to cover the car park. This new runway addition was also built over the ocean. As an alternative to using landfill to construct the expansion, the runway sits on 180 columns that are 70 meters tall, with the car park underneath.

Eagle Vail

The World’s Scariest Airport Landings

If you’re eager to get to the Colorado slopes and enhance your skiing, this airport is in the middle of snow capped mountains. When you land, you won’t see anything apart from snow and a minuscule little strip, hopefully snow-free!

Courcheval

At Courcheval, a very short runway and a gradient of 18.5% is enough to test any pilot. Taking off by running up the hill would be hard enough on foot, but taking 150,000 lbs with you can present quite a dilemma.

Kai Tak

The World’s Scariest Airport Landings

With mountains and skyscrapers to the north, a full 90 degree turn at the last split second and then a drop over the houses quickly before you run out of runway, this is a challenging landing. Luckily, Hong Kong now uses its new Check Lap Kok airport off Lantau Island, but it’s a longer ride into the city.

Gibraltar

The World’s Scariest Airport Landings

The World’s Scariest Airport Landings

Mind that rock and don’t land too far right or you’ll be in the wrong country as the border with Spain is only 100 yards away. The main road into the island goes over the runway. Who has priority?
The 1,400ft rock is an enjoyable visit and a wonderful landmark for pilots who have all flown from the UK – that’s the only country that serves Gibraltar direct. It’s easier to stay at home and relax on your Klaussner sofa.

St Maarten

With the landing just 50 foot over the beach, no wonder beach goers avoid that stretch of sand. Well, they should, but many like to see a flying airplane up close. When you leave your airplane and head for the beach, you’ll find the aircraft extremely loud. It’s close enough so that passengers can see you clearly when they land on the Dutch side of the island.

St Barts

The World’s Scariest Airport Landings

Don’t land on that runway, that’s a road; drop quickly and pull up hurriedly to avoid the sea. The airport on the tropical island of Saint-Barthelemy is just over five football pitches long and copes with large aircraft as long as they pitch down at the beginning of the runway. Otherwise the Caribbean Sea gets too close for comfort. Okay for a swim, but not while you’re still in the jet.

Toncontin International

The World’s Scariest Airport Landings

It’s been suggested that landing at Honduras’ international airport is more difficult than landing on an aircraft carrier at night. It’s one of the shortest landing strips for large aircraft in the world. Pilots have to watch out for the strong crosswinds that only hit you at the last moment, forcing many aircraft to land almost sideways.

Lukla

The World’s Scariest Airport Landings

Renamed Hillary Tensing airport in 2008, this Nepal airport is only attended by highly qualified pilots. If you’ve avoided the fog you’ll see a steep incline that forces a 12% drop for pilots to negotiate a high ridge, banking left, descending rapidly, straightening up and crazy braking on the way in, then hitting the accelerator to its maximum to take off. Avoiding that mountain helps keep the mind focused on clearing upwards and onward quickly. There really is no margin for error.



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