If you regularly fly into and out of Newark Airport, you don’t have much to worry about as far as severe weather conditions, stop-short runways, or high elevations. However, there are several airports around the world that are considered very dangerous to land at and take off from. Here are seven you’ll probably want to avoid:
Courchevel Airport, French Alps
France’s Courchevel Airport is tucked into the snowy French Alps and has a runway of just 1,722 feet (the average is between 6,000 and 8,000 feet). In addition to maneuvering around the mountains, pilots also have to adjust their landings to compensate for the nearly 11-degree slope of the runway. To top it off, the area experiences fog and snow on a regular basis, making take-offs and landings even more difficult.
Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Lukla, Nepal
At 1.76 miles above sea level, the airport otherwise known as “Lukla Airport” is where ambitious climbers fly into when they want to journey up Mount Everest. Because it’s located at such a high altitude, pilots often have to cope with extreme clouds, high winds, and a short runway that sits between a huge mountain and a 3,000-foot cliff. Pilots must makes sure their take-offs and landings are perfect; otherwise, they risk plummeting off a cliff or crashing into a mountain.
Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten, Caribbean
Because Caribbean airports are so small, they’re often quite dangerous to use. In St. Maarten, Princess Juliana Airport’s runway sits at the end of a public beach and major roadway – both of which the planes must fly over (at low altitude). The airport is mainly used by small and medium-sized planes, but large jets can sometimes manage a landing here (however, because they fly so low, they can blow cars off the road).
Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland
In southern Greenland, daily temperatures throughout the year vary between 13 degrees and 58 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a very cold place to live. In addition to the cold temperatures, pilots must fly up Tunulliarfik Fjord and take on severe wind gusts before they reach the runway. And to top things off, when the area’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano erupts, it sends particles of glass into the air that can destroy plane engines.
Barra International Airport, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
While Princess Juliana Airport may be near a beach, this airport in Scotland actually is a beach. At Barra International, planes have to time up their travels according to the tide, because when the tide comes in, the runway is under water. They also have to time up their travels with public beach hours and for late afternoon or evening flights, the only illumination on the runway is from car headlights.
Gibraltar International Airport
Because there’s not much space or flat land in Gibraltar (the island is only 2.3 square miles), its only airport has just one runway, and it’s about 5,500 feet long. What’s unique about it, however, is that it completely intersects a major four-lane roadway, and the roadway has to be shut down every time a plane takes off or lands. If someone were to disregard the traffic signal at the intersection, they’re at risk of colliding with an airplane.
Paro Airport, Bhutan
This airport in Bhutan sits about 1.4 miles above sea level and is nestled in the Himalayan mountains. with peaks up to 18,000 feet surrounding it and extreme weather conditions most of the year, it’s incredibly difficult place to land a plane. Because of this, only a handful of pilots are actually qualified to use the airport and it must be under visual meteorological conditions and during daylight hours.