There are around 45,000 airports in the world, and not all landings are plane sailing. Short runways, mountainous terrain and last minute landings can leave passengers on the edge of their seats; literally! Read on for lowcostholidays.com’s run-down of five of the scariest runways around the world, and why these adrenaline fuelled landings should not deter you from these amazing destinations.
(This is a guest post from Faith of Low Cost Holidays)
Santa Catarina, Madeira, FNC
The international airport in Madeira will certainly provide a thrilling landing for its passengers. The runway is only 2700 metres long and requires real skill from the pilot to safely land the aircraft.
Nestled between the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, the plane needs to be steered directly towards these mountains before making a sharp right hand turn and gliding down onto the short runway. It was in 1964 that the first plane flew out of the Santa Catarina Airport, however back then the runway was even shorter at 1600 meters, before being extended in 2000.
Part of it now stretches over the ocean, which saves space on the island for excellent holiday facilities. Once you’ve left the airport and checked into your hotel, get ready to hike up into the mountains and enjoy a rare outdoor yoga session or explore the traditional markets in the islands capital of Funchal. For those wanting to relax in the sun, head to Ribeira Brava and lay out on the stunning beach.
Tenzing Hillary, Nepal, LUA
This Himalayan airport has one of the steepest runways in the world.
Enough momentum has to be gained from the plane when racing along the runway, because once the tarmac comes to an end you are left with a 600 meter drop into the valley. A failed take off is not an option!
At just 450 metres in length, it’s no wonder that Tenzing Hillary holds the “most dangerous runway in the world” title. The airport was carved into the side of the mountain in 1965, during which time it consisted of just a dirt track; causing some of the planes to skid before they made it airborne, but these disconcerting landing conditions didn’t seem to put travellers off.
Lukla, the small village close to the airport, is the starting basecamp of Mount Everest, so it’s the climbers that make it the busiest domestic airport in Nepal, averaging around 50 flights per day.
Luqa, Malta, MLA
This small island has a runway which is only 3000 meters long, requiring experienced pilots to bring the aircraft to a standstill over a short distance.
The runway used to be an airfield from which the Maltese defended their country in the 1940s, but construction for the airport only began in 1989 and was later opened in 1992. It is the only airport on the island and around 3.5 million people pass through it every year.
Once landed, travellers can head to the beach for some rest and relaxation or explore the capital city, Valetta, home to the Grand Harbour and beautiful architecture, before kicking back in a quaint bistro down a cobbled street. Make sure you try the Maltese speciality, rabbit stew!
Even though the island is small there are still plenty of fantastic hotels to choose from, so make sure Malta is on your travel wish list.
Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten, SXM
This Caribbean island has a peculiar runway. It’s undeniably short, measuring just 2300 metres, and it is well known for being a mere few metres away from the famous Maho Beach.
There are signs to warn people of the danger from the aircrafts jet blasts during take-off and landing. Some holidaymakers have tried to stand in the way of the jet stream, only to be left red-faced after being blown into the sea!
Although the landing looks more spectacular, the take-off is in fact more difficult. Pilots are required to turn immediately to avoid colliding with mountains, which are directly in their path. The island itself is popular for all holiday-makers with a beautiful landscape, warm weather and a landing to remember.
Heraklion International Airport, Crete, HER
One of two airports in Crete, Heraklion International has the smaller of the two runways.
In 1947 the airport had its first terminal built, but it wasn’t until a year later that commercial flights began to fly there, even with the runway being flat agricultural land rather than concrete. Today the runway now measures 8000 meters, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s still relatively short.
Charter flights now fly in and out of Heraklion airport, with more than 5 million passengers visiting each year. It’s no wonder so many holiday makers choose Crete as their holiday destination as it’s the largest of the Greek Islands, and renowned for its natural beauty and diverse landscape. Click here to find out more information on Crete with lowcostholidays.com.
All aboard and buckle up for the flight and holiday of a lifetime. Which runway will you be visiting?