The world's most alarming airplane landings

(CNN) — When an airport was constructed on the mid-Atlantic island of St. Helena (above), it was initially dubbed the “world’s most useless” airport. That’s as a result of wind shear on the cliffside runway initially made it harmful to land.

Today the airport is up and working, nevertheless it’s a class C, that means that pilots should be specifically skilled to land there. It’s not the one one — listed below are a number of the most breathtaking (but additionally fear-inducing) airports around the globe.

Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is notorious for bumpy landings -- which avgeeks love to watch.

Madeira is infamous for bumpy landings — which avgeeks love to look at.

Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Those who go on trip to Madeira know that the island is infamous for tough landings — and typically even no landings in any respect. The airport’s proximity to excessive terrain means turbulence and wind shear — typically extreme — on remaining strategy. The runway finishes on the cliff edge on both aspect — however fortunately it is a low one, with a street beneath it. Avgeeks are so keen on Madeira that the airport has constructed a platform beside the runway to look at pilots give it their greatest shot.

Leh, India

Flights to Leh are only scheduled for the mornings.

Flights to Leh are solely scheduled for the mornings.


The twenty third highest airport on the earth does not sound too excessive… till you notice Leh airport sits at 10,682 ft above sea degree. Surrounded by mountains, with a brief runway, it is beset by sturdy winds within the afternoon, that means flights are restricted to mornings solely. Widebody and heavy planes usually are not allowed, and all pilots touchdown right here obtain particular coaching.

Sint Maarten

Beachgoers get a fantastic view of planes landing at Sint Maarten.

Beachgoers get a implausible view of planes touchdown at Sint Maarten.

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You do not should be an avgeek to have watched movies of planes touchdown at Sint Maarten — social media is stuffed with footage of jets touchdown on the Caribbean airport. That’s as a result of the runway backs straight onto a seaside, that means that planes are available in to land proper overhead. Although it appears enjoyable, it is harmful stuff — in 2017, a lady was killed by a jet engine blast as she was hanging onto the airport fence with different swimsuit-clad vacationers. For these on board, taking off is barely extra scary than touchdown — because you head straight for the mountain rearing up behind the airport.

Paro, Bhutan

Planes can only land during the day at Paro.

Planes can solely land throughout the day at Paro.

Andrew Bain/Alamy

Cantilevered 7,364 ft above sea degree, Paro is Bhutan’s solely worldwide airport — but few pilots are cleared to land there, so difficult is the strategy. Landings are solely allowed in good visibility situations (for starters, daylight) as a result of there is not any radar, so planes should make a guide strategy. They should additionally weave between hills and over homes earlier than curving onto the runway.

London City, UK

Planes dip around Canary Wharf before landing sharply at London City.

Planes dip round Canary Wharf earlier than touchdown sharply at London City.

David Goddard/Getty Images

Flying proper over a capital metropolis to land is an uncommon feeling as of late, however descending into London City you may swoop across the City of London’s skyscrapers, financial institution round Canary Wharf, and land at such a steep angle there’s the sensation of being in a helicopter. Taking off is equally invigorating.

Reagan National Airport, USA

Planes skim over the DC skyline when landing at Ronald Reagan airport.

Planes skim over the DC skyline when touchdown at Ronald Reagan airport.

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In June 2021, when a Frontier Airlines airplane skidded off the runway at DC’s Ronald Reagan airport, one passenger described it as a “little bit scary.” But you do not have to be concerned in an incident to get the creeps right here — the sharp flip planes make close to the Potomac River to line up with the runway, and the dodging of no-fly zones throughout the town, make this a tough one for pilots.

Innsbruck, Austria

Landing at Innsbruck is tougher than it seems to passengers.

Landing at Innsbruck is more durable than it appears to passengers.

Robert Buchel/Alamy

Hugged by mountains, the capital of Tyrol is a high snowboarding vacation spot — and a powerful flight in. Or quite, the views are. The problem for pilots is magnificent another way. Planes should dip over an almost 8,000-foot peak, cope with wind shear gusting off the mountains, and, relying on the course of the wind, might even must financial institution sharply to maneuver into place to land within the valley.

Congonhas, Brazil

Congonhas sits right in the middle of São Paulo.

Congonhas sits proper in the midst of São Paulo.

Pulsar Imagens/Alamy

São Paulo’s home airport used to have an issue with drainage — one so critical that it triggered a deadly accident in 2007. Following that, the runway was resurfaced to right the issue, however touchdown right here can nonetheless really feel fairly bushy. Just just a few miles from downtown — which in São Paulo means it is nonetheless in the midst of the town — the one runway, which debuted within the Thirties, is surrounded by city sprawl, that means you may be flying over condominium blocks and rooftops proper until the final second.

Lukla, Nepal

With its short runway and a perilous drop at the end, Lukla is notorious.

With its brief runway and a dangerous drop on the finish, Lukla is infamous.

Markus Thomenius/Alamy

Mountains, wind shear and a brief runway — Lukla has all of it. Often known as the world’s most harmful airport, the gateway to Everest, within the mountains of Nepal, has its runway laid out on a cliffside between mountains — simply 1,729 ft of it — dropping straight into an abyss on the finish. To assist planes decelerate, it is even slanted upwards. There’s no scope for goarounds, both — if a airplane is on remaining descent, it must land. Still, the mountain views are unbelievable on the way in which down.

St. Helena

St. Helena airport made headlines when it was discovered that wind shear in its clifftop location made it difficult for planes to land.

St. Helena airport made headlines when it was found that wind shear in its clifftop location made it tough for planes to land.

Simon Benjamin/Alamy

You’ll probably be in for a bumpy experience touchdown at St. Helena. Wind shear paired with a cliffside airport imply the planes are given a superb buffeting as they arrive in to land. Fix your eyes on the views of the Longwood plain, the place Napoleon was exiled, and of tiny capital Jamestown, constructed right into a canyon crack with a single harbor. Originally solely deliberate for small plane, the runway was prolonged to accommodate a 757.

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