Ten scariest runways


Travel + Leisure magazine has an article in this month’s issue (and online) about some of the scariest runways in the world, including pictures and why they are considered to be so scary. Looking at the list, I’m actually surprised by a few of the included sites, and completely in agreement with others. Matekane air strip in Lesotho (pic in the link), for instance, is very short and drops off into a ravine at the end. Pilots report that airplanes aren’t always actually flying when they hit the end of the runway, and they have to continue to gain speed during their drop off the edge of the cliff. Others on the list, like Washington’s National airport and JFK in New York City are on the list simply because the approach procedures require some “difficult” navigation. In the case of those two, however, the difficulty is regulatory, not real. If a plane on approach to National is a bit off they veer into restricted airspace, not a mountain. And LaGuardia has water at the end of two shorter runways than what JFK presents.

Based on the metrics that they use I’d consider adding Queenstown, New Zealand and Quito, Ecuador to the list. Both have mountainous approaches and some serious banking involved. And both are fun destinations to visit!

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

One Comment

  1. I’ve been to two of those, GIB and SXM

    At GIB I never got a decent picture (my fault since I have been there twice)

    At SXM I ended up getting the camera full of sand as I stupidly tried to get my wife to get a picture………and she was standing way too close to get both me and the KLM 747 that was landing right at that moment (mere luck …..I should have planned it better).

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