Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – Saba Island
This 1300-foot runway ends with either a nice beach vacation or a sheer drop off a cliff.
Qamdo Bamda Airport – Tibet
This hub sits at 14,000 feet above sea level, which they compensate for by having a runway that’s almost 3.5 miles long.
Ice Runway – Antarctica
“Runway” is a strong word, this is more of a groomed piece of ice that giant airplanes full of supplies have to take off and land on, without getting stuck or breaking through soft ice.
Gibraltar Airport – Gibraltar
This engineer’s nightmare has the city’s main highway cutting directly across the airport’s runway, stopping traffic every time a plane has to take off or land.
Madeira Airport – Portugal
The short runways here were slightly lengthened in after a crash in 1977, but pilots must still take a straight shot at the mountains and avoid them with a sharp bank in order to have enough room to land.
Princess Juliana International Airport – St. Maarten
The runway is somewhat short, but the real intense part of this airport is when the jets come to within 30-60 of tourists on the beach.
Courchevel – France
This runway in the Alps has a snowy 1,700-foot runway, but the real challenge is the 18.5% grade that you have to navigate for takeoff and landing.
Paro Airport – Bhutan
The small mountain passage approach to a narrow runway is gnarly enough that only eight pilots in the entire world are deemed qualified enough to land here.
Svalbard Airport – Longyear
This Norwegian airport has a significant structure built fully out of ice and permafrost. So much so that they’ve had to engineer insulation and cooling systems so that the airport never melts into a puddle.
Toncontin International Airport – Honduras
The semi-short runway is one thing, but the mountain range that surrounds the airport providing only one path in and out is a whole different ordeal.