The 7 scariest airport runways

These airports should probably be avoided if you're prone to suffering from a fear of flying

Click to follow
The Independent Travel

While flying can be a terrifying prospect for many, the sight of these runways could be enough to put them off flying for life.

Some feature a shorter runway than most, while others require pilots to manoeuvre mountains, or bodies of water at the end of them.

Hechi Jinchengjiang Airport, China

Hechi-Jinchengjiang-Airport.jpg
A view of the runway of the new airport built on top of mountains in Hechi city (Imaginechina/REX)

This airport opened in 2014, and to construct it builders had to level off the top of 60 hilltops in order to place the runway. To level the runway for the £85million airport, architects used dynamite to blow off the top of the mountain. Now pilots have to navigate onto the short runway, 2,200ft above sea level.

Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar

Gibraltar-airport.jpg
Gibraltar airport seen from the Rock in Gibraltar in January 2013 (Wang Lili/REX)

At Gibraltar’s airport, a highway intersects the runway. This means that whenever a flight is due to land in Gibraltar the road has to be closed. The traffic on the Winston Churchill Avenue is kept at a standstill for about 10 minutes to allow flights to land. As well as having to contend with traffic, the runway is also surrounded on three sides by the coast.

Toncontin International Airport, Honduras

Toncontin is considered to be an incredibly tricky runway to navigate due to its short runway and mountainous terrain. The runway is significantly shorter than other major runways, and was extended in 2009 from 6,112ft in length by 984 ft.

Barra Airport, Scotland

For planes planning to land at Barra Airport in the Outer Hebrides, they’ll have to negotiate a particularly sandy terrain. It’s the only airport in the world where planes are scheduled to use a beach runway. Flight times have to accommodate the tide, so when the tide is high, planes often have to either cancel their flights or delay landing.

Madeira Airport, Madeira

Madeira-runway.jpg
Runway at Madeira Airport. Photo: Jarle Vines (Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 3.0)

This is another particularly short runway, based at the bottom of a slope and held up by pillars. One side of the runway teeters over the water’s edge, made all the more hair-raising by often-harsh wind conditions.

Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Nepal

Lukla_Airport_April_2010.JPG
Tenzing-Hillary runway is steep and surrounded by mountains (Picture: Jeremy Broomfield)

This runway is short and upward sloping and is only accessible by helicopter or small fixed-wing planes. The runway is also at high altitude, around 9,334 ft above sea level.

Gustaf III Airport, St Barth's

To get to the airport, pilots have to fly over mountain peaks before starting their descent onto a short runway that literally ends at a beach. Sunbathers are advised not to lie directly at the end of the runway.