40 Airports Reserved For Brave Pilots And Even Braver Passengers

By Aakash M

Going on vacation is always fun, especially when you get to visit new places. But, in order to get there, you need to take a plane, train or automobile. Airplanes are a great way to travel if you’re going on a long trip, as you get to spend less time traveling and more time having fun. Going on a flight can be a pretty scary experience for some people, and for a good reason. There is something rather terrifying about flying in a metal cylinder in the sky, supported by nothing but engines and wings! There is a technical term for this medically recognized fear: flight anxiety. However, there is only a term for fear of flights. There isn’t a term for fear of airports, though. Many people would wonder, “What is so scary about airports?” For that, we’d ask you to wait till you look at these pictures.

1. Tenzing-Hillary Airport

This airport, for one, has so many problems that we are actually surprised how it is even operating in the first place. The Tenzing-Hillary airport is close to Mount Everest, and it has a 2000ft drop right near the runway.

Image courtesy of Petr Meissner/Flickr

If these problems aren’t enough, there are also a lot of power cuts happening around there, and that’s quite obvious from its location. It’s quite an uncomfortable fact since, if there’s no electricity, how will the pilots communicate with the air traffic controllers?

2. Tioman Airport

Only a highly skilled pilot can successfully fly into Tioman Island in Malaysia. That’s because this airport is located right next to the mountains of this island. A safe landing requires a 90-degree maneuver. Imagine how scary it is to be a passenger!

Image courtesy of pulautioman.de and www.ibtimes.co.uk

The risk is even more so because of the cliff. Considering these conditions, it looks like a little shifting here and there would shoot the plane over the edge! We wouldn’t recommend visiting here, and we don’t know for how long this airport will operate.

3. Kai Tak Ai Airport

Unlike the two airports above, this dangerous airport was shut down back in 1998. The Kai Tak Ai airport in Hong Kong was closed after numerous dangerous accidents took place there. These accidents happened because the city was so close to the airport.

Image courtesy of Birdy Chu/inkstonenews.com and Christian Hanuise/jetphotos.com

Actually, the view from there is pretty impressive, but things became very difficult for the pilots with the airport so close to the city, or rather, so close to all the skyscrapers! To make things worse, there were also a lot of mountains and strong winds.

4. Aspen County Airport

Here is another dangerous airport that is located pretty close to the mountains, this time on the other side of the world. The Aspen County Airport is located in Colorado in the USA, and the height alone isn’t what makes this airport dangerous so dangerous.

Image courtesy of uncovercolorado.com and worldtravelling.com

Because there are so many mountains near the airport, there is also a lot of strong wind blowing around, which makes keeping the planes steady a challenging job for the pilots. It must take a very skilled pilot to land at this airport.

5. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport

This airport looks really scenic from this image, but let us tell you that this runaway is highly terrifying. Irrespective of a pilot’s experience, it’s risky for any pilot trying to land here. Despite the risks, it’s hard to stay away as this airport is located in the Antilles islands, which is known for its beauty.

Image courtesy of Amazing Planet/YouTube

This airport is so freaky that locals recommend using the ferry to go to their destination instead of going to the airport and taking the plane. The runway of this airport that you see above is among the shortest in the world. On top of that, it ends on the drop of a cliff.

6. Narsarsuaq Airport

The Narsarsuaq Airport is situated in Greenland, right in the middle of two extremes. On one side, there is the icy weather causing problems. On the other side, the ash from the active volcano fills the air when it erupts on occasion.

Image courtesy of greenland.com

There is so much ice here that visibility becomes a massive problem for pilots. At the same time, the volcanic ash has the potential to make the plane engine stop functioning. What passenger would risk sitting in a plane facing such severe conditions?

7. Sitka Rocky Guiterrez Airport

We saw how things like altitude, mountains, weather, wind, and even volcanoes could be a massive problem for planes. Now, here is another issue that we missed out on earlier — birds. Unlike mountains and skyscrapers, birds are a moving target that pilots must avoid.

Image courtesy of flyinvacations.com

This airport in Alaska is located near the sea, meaning there are many birds for whom this area is their home. This causes a lot of problems for the pilots who are about to land or take off from here. Furthermore, because this airport is so close to the water, there is a high risk of flooding!

8. Catalina Airport

This airport isn’t in the water; it is firmly on the land. Despite being on the ground, it is known as the “Airport in the sky.” Well, that’s because it is at the height of 1,602ft up a mountain. With great height comes great complications, like strong wind and turbulence.

Image courtesy of fightclub805.com

That isn’t the end of the problems. The edge of every runway in this airport is at a drop, which makes the pilots unable to see if another plane heads towards them. That’s really dangerous, and we really can’t understand the point of this airport if there is no safety.

9. Gisborne Airport

We know that many people here are scared of planes, and by now, even airports. But, if you’re also afraid of trains, you might want to skip to the next one because this airport literally has a railway track running through it.

Image courtesy of destinationtips.com

The railway track is actually on the runway’s center, and guess what — it’s frequently in use! Have a look at the picture above, if you don’t believe us! But pilots and passengers can fly without fear because a lot of work has gone into construction to ensure that planes and trains can pass safely without accidents.

10. Toncontin International Airport

This airport is located close to a town nearby, which benefits the residents of the town in Honduras. However, there is a small problem — the airport is located a little too close to the town! The convenience certainly comes at a cost.

Image courtesy of Enrique Galeano Morales/Flickr

No wonder this airport has been home to some accidents in the past few years. Not only that, but the pilots have also tried to make the plane take a sharp turn to avoid hitting valleys. Things get worse when the weather is terrible!

11. Gibraltar International Airport

Earlier, we only had a railway track running through the airport, but this airport takes things to the next level. Here’s how it does that — the Gibraltar International Airport has the main street of a city running through the runway!

Image courtesy of I, Jnpet/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia

The airport is quite a scary experience for the people driving cars through the main street! If planes fly over the street, the drivers simply need to wait patiently for the road to open again. On the bright side, waiting isn’t a problem because the Gibraltar scenery is so beautiful.

12. Matekane Air Strip

We saw quite a few commercial airports that are too dangerous to operate. However, here is an airport for private use that is very risky. Take a look at this picture — even at a quick glance, isn’t it obvious why this airport is private?

Image courtesy of eternallifestyle.com

For those who are wondering about the height of the runway, it is situated at the edge of a plunge of a whopping 2,000 feet. The good part is that this private airstrip is only used for medical emergencies and other critical situations.

13. Midway International Airport

After looking at this airport, many of you might think that it is smaller than most airports, which is in its favor. Although it does reduce the chances of accidents occurring, that’s not the case here. This airport is dangerous because it’s small.

Image courtesy of mapquest.com

Non-local pilots often made mistakes during landing or takeoff because they were unfamiliar with this airport. Not only is the airport itself small, but so are the runways, which are smaller in comparison to other airports. Add snowy Illinois weather, and you have a recipe for disaster, as happened in 2005 when a plane slid off the runway!

14. LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia Airport is quite a famous airport since it is close to New York. That said, LaGuardia Airport is also busy all the time. The good part about the airport is that you can get the best views of the Big Apple while touching down.

Image courtesy of Patrick Handrigan/CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia

Sadly, that’s not everything about the LaGuardia Airport. It is quite a rough experience for the pilots. Because it’s such a busy airport, pilots find it challenging to navigate in the sky. Only experienced and skilled pilots can land an aircraft with complete safety here.

15. John Wayne Airport

As we’ve seen several times, having an airport near the city can lead to a lot of problems for the pilots. For starters, pilots have to make sure that they don’t go near buildings while also following all the noise pollution rules!

Image courtesy of Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times and travelcostamesa.com

When at the John Wayne Airport, pilots need to ensure that the plane’s throttle is at the maximum before pulling back on the engines. For those inside the plane, it makes things very uncomfortable. It almost feels as if it’s a space shuttle takeoff.

16. Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport

This airport is great for those looking to get a thrilling adventure at a relatively low price. The Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport in Greece is built so close to the road that pedestrians can get a pretty close look. Don’t believe us? Just look at this picture!

Image courtesy of greekcitytimes.com

Doesn’t that image give you the chills? We, for one, don’t recommend getting as close as those pedestrians because it is so dangerous. Yet, many people love taking up-close photos of planes. But if you’re afraid of it, listen to your instincts; it’s good to let it be.

17. Kansai International Airport

There are only a few man-made islands in the world. Osaka Bay in Japan is home to quite a few, including this one, the Kansai International Airport. It was initially created to reduce the strain on the other international airport nearby. But, we think they could have chosen a better location with this one.

Image courtesy of Inside Kyoto

Because of the location, the airport is no stranger to cyclones, typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. It also leads to flooding at the airport, which, in turn, leads to a high number of cancellations. Considering all the dangers, this airport isn’t worth visiting.

18. Carnevalli Airport

If you visit Merida in Venezuela, there are high chances that you’ll be landing at the Carnevalli Airport. This airport is in a valley right in the middle of the Andes mountains. Do we even need to point out the dangers with this airport? If you weren’t hesitant enough already, this image says more than enough.

Image courtesy of Juan Ponce/Public Domain/Wikimedia

Over the years in the Carnevalli Airport, there have been quite a lot of serious plane crashes or other incidents where pilots missed the runaway. We hope such accidents never happen again, and our hearts go out to the victims of these incidents.

19. Queenstown Airport

Queenstown, New Zealand, is undoubtedly among the most beautiful places in the world, and we certainly recommend visiting. However, we certainly don’t recommend visiting the Queenstown Airport! This airport is right in between a series of high mountains and strong winds!

Image courtesy of Steve1420/Flickr

As you can guess, the area is also prone to harsh weather conditions, which cause a lot of visibility problems for the pilots who are landing or taking off. If you are visiting this place, it would be best to rethink your travel routes.

20. Wellington Airport

If the airport we talked about above isn’t enough, another New Zealand airport faces similar problems. The only difference is that the Wellington Airport starts at sea and ends at sea. What’s with these airports in New Zealand? Isn’t Australia the one known for its dangers?

Image courtesy of megaconstrucciones.net

Well, because of its location, pilots have to face a lot of problems with the winds while they are steering. In one incident in 2007, the winds were so strong, and the weather was so harsh that a plane literally flipped upside down on the runway!

21. Don Mueang International Airport

Many people love playing or even just watching golf because, according to them, it is a calming and relaxing sport. But, games here are quite the opposite since there isn’t anything relaxing about this golf course. How’s that even possible? It’s right next to the airport!

Image courtesy of Andre Wadman/GFDL 1.2/Wikimedia

Here’s what’s worse about the Don Mueang International Airport — there’s not one but two golf courses right on the airport’s doorstep! We can’t imagine how many times golf balls ended up landing on the runways, or worse, in the planes’ engines!

22. Copalis State Airport

Here is a fun fact about the Copalis State Airport: it is the only shoreline in Washington where a plane can land or take off! Although it’s legal to use the beach there as a runway, we don’t know why anybody would even want to do that.

Image courtesy of JustPlaneBen/YouTube

That picture seems rather terrifying. The airport is located along the sandy coast near the Copalis River. The views from the planes compensate for the dangers of landing on the sand, but we don’t think that’s a risk worth taking.

23. Bangda Airport

This airport previously held the record as being the highest airport in the world. Although it doesn’t carry that distinction anymore, it still sits at a staggering elevation of 14,219 ft. The Bangda airport only has one runway, which is also among the longest, with a 2.8-mile length.

Image courtesy of tibettravel.org

There isn’t a lot of the hustle and bustle of civilian life nearby. If you need to visit the nearest town from here, it is almost a 2.5-hour ride by car! No wonder the Bangda Airport in Tibet is considered among the loneliest airports in the world.

24. Saba Airport

How many of you have watched the King Kong movie? This airport was used as the island for that movie; maybe that’s why it looks so familiar! We suggest you take a ferry instead because this airport has a very short runway!

Image courtesy of Fyodor Borisov/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia

Not only is the length of the runway a problem, but it also has many jagged cliffs and steep inclines, which make it problematic even for skilled pilots. Flying a plane here requires a lot of expertise and courage. However, people should consider safer options. We’re just saying.

25. Courchevel International Airport

This mountain airport is located in the French Alps. Although it isn’t the highest one out there, it is definitely up there (no pun intended) since it is located at the height of 1,700 ft! However, there are more problems in this airport other than the elevation.

Image courtesy of airplane-pictures.net and Hugues Mitton (hugovoyages)/CC BY-SA 2.5/Wikimedia

For starters, the slopes have a steep 18.5% decline! It makes taking off a tough task for the pilots. Next, when the weather conditions are harsh, the lighting system of this airport gives out, thus making it even more difficult for the pilots!

26. Congonhas Airport

Why are there so many airports right in the center of cities? One or two would’ve been okay and pretty unique, but it sounds like a common thing now. When there are so many risks involved, it’s high time people start learning from each other.

Image courtesy of escape.com.au

The Congonhas Airport in São Paulo also has a very short runway, perhaps, among the shortest in the world; it only makes things worse for pilots trying to land or take off. Just like the Kai Tak Ai Airport, this one faces an additional problem: Skyscrapers!

27. Barra Island

The Copalis State Airport isn’t the only one with a sandy runway. This one in Scotland is just as risky, located on the sandy shores of Barra Island. Because it’s located on a bay, landing on the “runway” is not just dependent on the pilot’s skills but the tides as well!

Image courtesy of Steve Houldsworth/CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikimedia and thetravel.com

Located at a shoreline, the landing is even more dangerous when there is high tide, as the runways go underwater. It is so risky that pilots are not allowed to land at the airport during the night. We are honestly not surprised at this!

28. MCAS Futenma Okinawa

Most airports we’ve seen are potentially dangerous for pilots and passengers, but here is an airport that’s dangerous for the people living near it. Can you guess why that is the problem? Here’s a hint: take a look at the picture.

Image courtesy of Sonata/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia

The houses and apartments are so close to the airport that evacuating the residents in the event of an emergency is likely impossible. Although nothing significant has happened until now, we hope everything continues to stay safe here and not make it onto any more lists.

29. The Ice Runway

There is an airport in Antarctica, of all places. How many of you were surprised to read that sentence? Well, it’s actually true! Obviously, this airport is on the ice, and it is also the only way for the pilots to reach the island.

Image courtesy of icewings.net

Yet, we aren’t so sure why the people chose this location. It is very dangerous since the thickness of the ice is only four inches! So, heavy planes must steer clear or not visit this place at all. And in winter, pilots are flying blind without any sunlight.

30. Madang Airport

For those thinking of visiting Papua New Guinea, we suggest you check the airport out before your arrival. There are quite a few airports with runways on an edge, but this one is at a very random location on the airstrip!

Image courtesy of K. Winarske – Privat/GPL/Wikimedia

One very famous runway among these is at the Madang Airport. The runway here actually leads off the edge of the water, and guess where it is. It’s in the middle of a field! Is it a plane trip or a rollercoaster?

31. Madeira Airport

People think that Madeira, Portugal, is a great place to visit, but after taking a look at this picture of the Madeira Airport, it looks more like a nightmare! The Madeira airport is disturbingly close to the ocean, and on top of that, its runway is really close to the cliffs over there.

Image courtesy of Miguel Claudio/airliners.net

Because of these dangers, pilots need to have a special license to fly an aircraft here. It’s no surprise that only those pilots with a lot of experience and courage can even think of using the runway at this airport.

32. Yeager Airport

Yeager Airport is another airport located in the mountains, this time in West Virginia, right at the top of a flattened mountain. As you can see from the image of the airport below, the runway has cliffs on either of its sides. So, imagine the number of skills a pilot must have to get a landing right.

Image courtesy of Charleston Home And Living

About a decade ago, there was an incident where a pilot almost went over the edge of the cliff as a result of a misjudgment of the length of the runway. Gladly, the pilot stopped in time, and there were no casualties.

33. Reagan National Airport

Till now, we have mostly looked at airports facing natural problems like heights, cliffs, and harsh weather conditions. However, here is an airport with man-made issues. The Reagan Airport in Virginia is an airport that’s perilously close to various ‘no-fly’ zones.

Image courtesy of United States Geological Survey (USGS)/Public Domain/Wikimedia

Because of its proximity to the no-fly zones, pilots need to be very careful about what they are doing to ensure total safety. Not only that, but pilots also need to watch out for the White House, which is only 5 miles away!

34. Agatti Airport

Doesn’t the picture below look like a gorgeous island? Don’t be swayed by the scenery because it’s actually a pretty scary place to land! Agatti Island is a long and thin island, which leads to many complications for this airport’s runway.

Image courrtesy of walkthroughindia.com

As you can see, there is virtually no land on the sides, so pilots who will be landing or taking off need to be really precise with their decisions. On the brighter side, this view is breathtaking; no questions asked.

35. Svalbard Airport

Like the one above, this airport is also an example of how deceptive looks can be. The mountains near the airport are so stunning, but by now, we know right away that it causes a lot of problems for pilots. 

Image courtesy of airliners.net

Furthermore, the water rolls down the mountains. Now, imagine if it melts! We hope that doesn’t happen, but the whole airport will collapse if it does. The engineers built the site on top of permafrost…which we hope stays that way.

36. Gustaf III Airport

Now that we have come so far, many of you might be thinking that the best thing would be to not go on planes at all. But you could also be wrong there. Like several other airports we mentioned before, this runway is dangerously close to the beach and buildings nearby.

Image courtesy of worldtravelling.com

Planes over here fly right above the heads of those relaxing on the beach. We wonder how people can ever be at ease in the first place with the sounds of planes. Also, the runway begins near a sloped edge — just one more challenge for pilots.

37. Princess Juliana International Airport

Let’s look at another airport that is too close to the beach. The irony here is that the adjacent beach is famous for being so close to the airport. Beachgoers visit because they get to see planes from there! So, if you’re interested in getting a nice photo for social media, this place is it.

Image courtesy of Lawrence Lansing/CC BY 3.0/Wikimedia

It is still hazardous because the pilots have to fly low since they have to stay as close to the water as possible. So, this place also shows how social media isn’t everything. Thinking about it, and on second thought, the photo isn’t worth the risk!

38. Paro Airport

You might wonder why there isn’t any way to catch a nighttime flight to the Paro Airport in Bhutan. Well, the reason is that its runway is in a very small area that is really close to some mountains. That creates quite a massive challenge since pilots need to make 45-degree turns for safety.

Image courtesy of Doug Knuth/CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikimedia

Because of these problems, airport officials don’t let planes take off or land at night. It is only possible during the day when visibility is the best. Here’s another fact: there are only 17 pilots in the world who are qualified to use this site.

39. Telluride Regional Airport

Guess what — this airport has the privilege of being the commercial airport with the highest elevation in all of the USA. But, that’s not a selling point for anybody to visit this airport. Just look at the drop on that!

Image courtesy of uncovercolorado.com

It is well over 1,000 ft on both sides. This height itself is more than enough to make the passengers feel like they are on a rollercoaster. Sorry if we’re making you feel acrophobic, but the airport itself sits at around 9,000 ft in the air.

40. San Diego International Airport

The San Diego International Airport has too many dangers in its vicinity. Let’s look at a few. It has Mexican airspace on the southern side, which the pilots must steer clear of. In the east and the north, mountains cover the landscape. That’s not all, though…

Image courtesy of nbcsandiego.com and loveaviation.co.uk

If there are high mountains, there will also be a lot of strong wind affecting the pilot’s plane control. Because of all that, pilots have to take off or land one after another. Whew, that’s one scary airport right there.