Tag: World's Most Dangerous Airports

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: Adak Airport, Alaska

January 9, 2008 at 2:00 PM | by | Comments (5)

We've got another airport to add to our list of the world's most dangerous airports. Adak Airport, the westernmost public airfield in the United States, makes our list, thanks to tipster Ron's awesome story:

This used to be a US Naval Air Station way the heck out 'n gone in the Aleutian Islands from about 1942 until closure in 1997. Since then, it's become a civilian-operated airport. I'm not an air operations specialist of any sort, but as a civilian contractor working for the Navy, we commuted through Adak a number of times in 1989, 1990 and 1991 on our way to Amchitka, from Anchorage.

I specifically remember bouncing into Adak virtually every time we landed or took off from there. Seems the winds were always 30+, and sometimes as high as 60 when we finally got in or out. Then there was the fog.

There were several times we stooged around over the island for hours, hoping for 1/4 mile visibility so we could land. We usually made it in about 50% of the time on flights from Anchorage. If we were lucky enough to get in and out of Adak, we made it to Amchitka less than 50% of the time. We were flying Reeve Air.

One takeoff from Adak remains firmly implanted in my memory to this day.

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: Narsarsuaq, Greenland, UAK

November 27, 2007 at 5:00 PM | by | Comments (7)

Back at the start of 2007, we put together a series on the World's Most Dangerous Airports, which by the volume of mail we get about it is still on your minds. One place we didn't cover the first go around was Narsarsuaq Airport in the town of the same name in Greenland. Fortunately, tipster David wrote in with some details on the airfield, abbreviated both UAK and BGBW:

The approach is through a fjord, so it's necessary to make 90 degree turn to line up with the runway while in the "valley". It's similar to flying down a city street with high rises on both sides with severe turbulence at all times except on the brightest of days; downdrafts are everywhere. There's the risk of icebergs drifting into the departure/arrival path.

Unless the ceiling is at least 4,000 feet and visibility at least 5 miles, pilots without proper knowledge of the local topographical and meteorological conditions are advised to not attempt approach to Narsarsuaq though fjords. Strong easterly winds can create severe turbulence and windshear in vicinity of the airport. Takeoffs are limited to daytime, and the airport is in uncontrolled airspace.

As soon as weather falls below "great for flying", the approach to BGBW becomes a real hand humidifier. Going down the fjord, sometimes wind rushes in from the side and flicks your aircraft to the other side of the cliff wall; over-correcting can be as dangerous as not correcting. The procedure turn to line up on final is nerve hacking. Before or as soon as you finish the turn, there is usually a gust of wind either from the side, from the top or from the back, potentially giving you a not-needed-at-all speed boost all the way down.

Sounds dangerous enough for us! After the jump, check out a panoramic video of the airstrip--narrated by what could pass for Phil Keoghan--and a clip taken from an aircraft coming in to land at Narsarsuaq.

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· Greenland Travel coverage [Jaunted]

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: Lukla Airport, Nepal, LUA

Where: Lukla, Nepal
January 22, 2007 at 4:35 PM | by | Comments (0)


For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.

Since Lukla Nepal is the place most people start their Mount Everest trek, this Himalayan strip gets quite a bit of traffic--mostly to and from Kathmandu.

Sirens inform folks for miles when an airplane is landing here, and as you would suspect, only helicopters and Twin Otter type planes can handle the 2,000 foot, uphill runway that is fenced off at the end, to protect you from the edge of a mountain cliff.

As for take off?

When you take off, you go downhill and then the runway just disappears into the valley down below. If you don't get enough speed, you drop until you get lift and then hopefully get back up again.

Wind and weather cause plenty of delays here, however, there is usually plenty to drink around the airport, just in case you need to pass the time or get up the gumption to get on your flight.

Yeti Airlines is one of the few commercial airlines you can book through to get to LUA.

Click Here to check out a small craft landing at Lukla.

[Photo: Dave & Marks trip]

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· Luka Airport [Google Maps]

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: Courchevel Airport, France, CVF

January 19, 2007 at 3:37 PM | by | Comments (0)


For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.

Courchevel Altiport is home to an extremely short uphill runway (1722 feet) with a vertical drop at the end. Of course, since the airport is in the French Alps snow, wind and ice reek havoc with anything airborne. If do actually get the chance to land here, you will be afforded a rare opportunity to ski or snowboard after you disembark.

Who gets to land here? Well, Pierce Brosnan made the short list. This was the airport used in the opening seen of Tomorrow Never Dies.

For the rest of us, private plane, helicopter, or charter are the only ways to go, and your pilot is going to need some serious training before he or she is allowed to land at CVF.

If all that sounds like too much trouble there is a great little après-ski bar in the airport, perfect for watching planes and helicopters attempt to land from the warmth of the indoors.

[Photo: Rick Farrell]

Click here to check out a plane landing uphill at Courchevel.

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· Courchevel Airport Airport [Google Maps]
· Courchevel Airport Photos [Flickr]

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: Barra Airport, Scotland, BRR

January 18, 2007 at 3:45 PM | by | Comments (0)


For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.

Barra Airport is the only airport in the world where planes land on the beach. BRR is situated in on the wide beach of Traigh Mhor, on Barra island, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. If you want to fly here commercially you will want to book with British Airways, which flies to Barra from Glasgow and Benbecula.

The airport is literally washed away by the tide once a day, and if you arrive on a late afternoon flight, you may notice a couple of cars in the parking lot with their lights on, which provides pilots some added visibility, since the airport is naturally lit.

Needless to say you probably don't want to hang out at Barra Airport beach, unless you are a aviation junkie, in which case Barra Airport has a fool proof system, as sign that reads:

Keep off the beach. When the windsock is flying and the airport is active.

Ah the old sock on the door trick--the universal sign for "come back later".

Click here to check out a beach landing video.

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· Barra Airport [Google Maps]
· Barra Airport Photos [Flickr]

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: Saba Island, SAB

January 17, 2007 at 4:59 PM | by | Comment (1)


For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.

Saba Island is an idyllic, secluded, honeymoon destination. Travel and Leisure voted it the best island in the Caribbean. But before all you soon to be marrieds rush to book a post wedding trip to Saba, please make sure your partner to be can handle a ride on a Win Air DHC-6 Twin Otter.

The landing strip is a reported 1300 feet, which makes it one of the shortest commercial runways in the world. Furthermore, the strip is flanked on one side by steep hills, and on the other side and at both ends of the runway by cliffs dropping into the sea. This creates the possibility that an airplane might overshoot the runway during landing or takeoff and end up in the sea or on the cliffs.

Click here to check out a Saba landing video--looks like the sun can be rather blinding on approach to boot.

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· Yrausquin Airport, Saba Island [Google Maps]

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: Madeira Island, FNC

January 16, 2007 at 5:13 PM | by | Comments (5)


For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.

Ever heard of Madeira, an autonomous island (part of the EU) off the coast of Norther Africa? It is a popular year round resort with a near perfect climate, good wine, incredible scenery, and quality surfing. Sounds like paradise, but prepare yourself for a turbulent landing on the island's partially over-the-water runway when landing at Madeira Funchal Airport.

The FNC runway is abutted by water on one side and hills on the other, and in 2000 the runway was extended over the Atlantic Ocean about half a mile in order to accommodate jet liners. The overwater landing strip addition is supported by giant pillars, which you can actually boat around once your stay on Madeira begins.

Want more? Even though British Airways (direct from London-Gatwick), Air France, and other major airlines land here daily, pilots and passengers have to put up with mega-turbulence during landing, so much so that, at times, high winds and storms still close this airport to jet liners during winter months.

The airport itself is extremely modern and well kept, which any entering visitor deserves after putting up with what can be a arm rest clenching landing.

Check out the video of a SAS plane that approached FNC, but pulls off just before landing--this place has one tough approach.

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Google Maps]

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: LUG: Lugano, Switzerland

January 15, 2007 at 11:31 AM | by | Comments (0)


For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports.  And by dangerous we mean formidable, adventurous, and fear inspiring. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.

LUG is in a mountain valley, bordered by a lake and subject to strong alpine winds. Crossair / Swiss, have been flying there for years with aircraft as big as the BAe 146. Until one day, the Swiss aviation overseers have found out that the approach is so steep that it's illegal.

For a while, commercial air traffic into the area came to a virtual standstill. Eventually, Saab 2000 planes were again permitted to fly there. Too bad that Swiss had just sold all of these. So now they are wet-leasing Saabs for the Zurich-Lugano route.

Especially during inclement weather, approaching LUG is more fun than a roller coaster ride at your local Six Flags. Or, as the elderly American couple behind me once exclaimed: "Oh my god, we're all gonna die in here!!"

These days, Lugano airport is served by Baboo, Avilu, Darwin, and Swiss Air.

Thanks Nikolai!

Click more to check out some video over Lugano airport.

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· Lugano Airport Map [Google Maps]

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: WLG: Wellington, NZ

January 12, 2007 at 4:00 PM | by | Comments (0)


For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports. And by dangerous we mean formidable, adventurous, and fear inspiring. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.

Jaunted tipster Tim has seen his share of airports, and he wanted us to check out the Wellington New Zealand strip:

Similar to Hamilton Island is several respects, eg landing between hills with the sea at both ends of the runway. Great to land in Wellington when its windy, which it often is.

Want more? This airport's slogan is "Wild at Heart". Furthermore, on Friday nights the airport showcases local musicians in the terminal, and last year the airport put out a mix CD featuring songs from said musicians.

Oh, yeah, and there is a project in the works to lengthen the runway to keep up with aviation standards.

Click more to check out some video footage of planes landing at WLG to get an idea of what it is like to land in this skinny wind tunnel.

Thanks Tim!

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· Wellington Airport Map [Google Maps]

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World's Most Dangerous Airports: HTI: Hamilton Island

January 11, 2007 at 4:31 PM | by | Comments (2)


For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports. And by dangerous we mean formidable, adventurous, and fear inspiring. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.

Dreaming of a holiday on Australia's Whitsundays? Incredibly, the tiny island has been able to build an airport big enough to accommodate jet airliners (mostly Jet Star and Virgin Blue).

Minimum runway length for jets is ~5,000 feet, while HTI clocks in at 5,591 feet, or just a bit over one mile long. Want more? There are hills on both sides of the runway and water at both ends. To line up for the approach, even the most experienced pilots fly straight past the landing strip, then turn back at a fourty-five degree angle.

What is your reward for this harrowing air experience?

Your luggage on arrival is collected by the island taxi/bus service and taken directly to your room in the hotel. Unfortunately you have to carry it to the bus on the return journey and check it in yourself.

S'alright mate. After all, you are spending time in Oz, so it is best you calibrate yourself to the Australian attitude of let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may as soon as you arrive, literally.

YouTube video of takeoff from HTI is after the jump, but it doesn't do the experience justice.

Related Stories:
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Jaunted]
· World's Most Dangerous Airports [Google Maps]

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