Video Preview

The Travel Detective

Don’t Go There: The World’s Scariest Runways

Even the most seasoned fliers can sometimes get a little rattled during takeoff and landing.

After all, those are the two most dangerous moments of any flight. But not every airport runway is created equal, because some are a little more frightening than others.
Take Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport on the Caribbean island of Saba. The runway is perched right on a cliff and drops into the sea at both ends. On top of that, it’s a measly 1,300 feet long–the shortest commercial runway in the world–so there’s no room for error here.
Then there’s Gibraltar International Airport. The runway here has water on both ends, and the towering Rock of Gibraltar along one side. And running right through the middle of it is Gibraltar’s busiest road, which has to shut down every time a plane takes off or lands.
Or how about Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Nepal? This is usually the first stop for folks who attempt to climb Mt. Everest. And it’s pretty high up–more than 9,000 feet! The high winds and unpredictable visibility make this runway one of the most dangerous in the world. It also doesn’t help that it has a 12 degree incline and ends with a 2,000 foot drop into the valley below. Hold on tight!
And finally, there’s Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten. The runway here is long enough to handle huge jetliners but just barely. In order to land safely, planes have to come in incredibly low over the water. In fact, the sunbathers on the beach can almost reach up and touch them. How’s that for an adrenaline rush?
Bon voyage!
By Peter Greenberg for