They say that, statistically, the safest way to travel is by air. Not if you’re flying into one of these…
Princess Juliana International Airport, Sint Maarten
Flights arriving at this Caribbean island make a low approach over the water, causing disorientation and meaning instruments are essential. It’s one for experienced pilots; countless Youtube videos show aircraft barely clearing the roofs of passing cars below as they touch down.
Kai Tak, Hong Kong
At Hong Kong’s now defunct Kai Tak airport, approaching aircraft had to make a sharp turn before skirting the tops of buildings and landing on a narrow runway in the harbour. A spectacular approach, but one which led to a string of fatal crashes during the 73-year period from its inception to its closing in 1998.
Many airlines require their pilots to undergo additional training for landings at this Greek island. Such is the shortness of the runways – built on reclaimed land between two islands — that some flights departing Skiathos for the UK can’t take off with enough fuel to complete the trip without a refuelling stop en route.
Lukla Tenzing-Hillary, Nepal
Lukla’s remote but well-used (on account of it being the place where most people start their climb of Mount Everest) airport offers surrounding mountainous terrain, thin air, highly changeable weather and a short, sloping runway: in short, an absolute nightmare for pilots.
An approach to runway 1 at Toncontin International Airport involves circling inside a basin below the surrounding mountaintops, after which the pilot has around 100 ft to line up in front of the rapidly looming runway.