Those of us lucky enough to fly airplanes know the value of an airport: priceless! because there are some airports in this world that are far too dangerous for regular pilots and travellers.
Here's a list of 9 such airports, considered to be dangerous due to their proximity to mountain peaks, cliff faces, crowded beaches, main roads or other non conventional features.
9. Talcha Airport, Nepal.
When the remote mountain province of Mugu wanted a way of contacting the outside world the only option was to build a runway. Located in a remote area of the Himalayas, this airport is still few days away from the nearest town and accessible only by the roughest of tracks.
The runway at Talcha is short, perched on the edge of a steep slope and ends in a cliff. It's a sheer sided ledge carved into the mountainside, with a gravel runway and a wooden control tower.
8. Lake Hood in Anchorage, Alaska.
Little planes are ubiquitous in Alaska. And flyers don't have to land at them: there are plenty of natural runways to choose from. In the winter, folks can land on snow skis, while in the summer, they can land on water skis. Although flying is a way of life in America's largest state, bad weather makes air travel in Alaska a treacherous ride.
7. Landing on the Ice Runway in Antarctica.
The fact that there are no paved runways in Antarctica is enough to make you bite your fingers. Everything under the plane is a long stretch of manicured snow and ice. The most challenge is the weight of the aircraft that must land on this runway. The weight of each plane must be checked to avoid it cracking the ice landing strip or the plane getting stuck in the snow.
6. Funchal Airport, Madeira.
It may be the entry point for one of Europe's most idyllic holiday destinations, but Madeira Funchal is also known for being one of the "world's most dangerous airports". Short runway, rocky hills on one side and a sheer drop into the ocean on the other, and if this wasn't enough, the exposed nature of the airport means landing planes are susceptible to strong winds which can literally blow planes off the runway.
5. Kai Tak, Hong Kong.
With numerous skyscrapers and mountains located to the north and its only runway jutting out into Victoria Harbour, landings at the airport were dramatic to experience and technically demanding for pilots. Strong crosswinds and the surrounding mountains only added to the difficulties of landing here.
Kai Tak Airport was the international airport of Hong Kong from 1925 until 1998. It was closed and replaced by the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok.
4. Princess Juliana Airport, Caribbean Island of St Maarten.
To land on Princess Juliana International Airport, planes fly in forty feet over the heads of unsuspecting holiday makers, cross over the fence and then pass over the road to finally land on the runway. The airport’s landing strip is just too short at only 7,150 feet long. Large aircraft need at least 8,000 feet to insure a safe landing while some really heavy planes require 10,000 feet.
3. Barra Airport, Scotland.
Probably the only airport in the world that also serves as a beach. Takeoffs and landings at Barra Airport occur on the same sand that people can stroll along during airport off-hours. And that’s just the beginning because the runway disappears with every tide and the illumination from the lights of all the cars passing by assist the pilot with his landing. For those who simply want to enjoy a romantic walk along the beach, there are warning signs informing them of all expected upcoming flight arrivals.
2. Lukla Airport, Nepal.
Lulla Airport serves thousands of climbers hoping to conquer Mount Everest, as well as trekkers wishing to explore the Everest region. Dangers at this airport include high winds and extreme cloud cover—but these are by no means the scariest aspects. One end of the runway is preceded by high terrain, on the other end, there is a two-thousand-foot drop.
1. Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.
Under constant threat of attack and tasked with managing hundreds of thousands of civilian and military aircraft movements every year, this is an extraordinary place.