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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