World Amazing Stuff: Dramatic runways in the world

Dramatic runways in the world

01. Courchevel Altiport, France

Aircraft fly through a channel between mountains, landing on a short, steeply sloping runway, complete with vertical drop off, that could almost double as a ski jump. In winter, the tarmac air strip at the French resort's altiport, more than 2,000 meters above sea level, is often the only thing not covered in snow.

02. Matekane Air Strip, Lesotho

There's little chance of extending this runway very far. It ends abruptly at the edge of a 600-meter drop. Only light aircraft use the airstrip on this remote tabletop plateau in the tiny southern African kingdom.

03. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba, Caribbean

Rivaling St. Maarten for Caribbean airport thrills, Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, on the island of Saba, has one of the world's shortest landing strips. Wedged on a rocky outcrop at the foot of a mountain and with the end of the tarmac plunging into the sea, touchdown here is a dramatic experience.

04. Gibraltar International Airport

Flying toward a gigantic limestone monolith on a landing approach is never easy on the nerves, but in the 6.2-square-kilometer British overseas territory of Gibraltar there's nowhere else to put an airport except in the shadow of the Rock.

Space is so limited on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula that the runway bisects the territory's main highway. As aircraft get priority over automobiles in the vehicular pecking order, the road is closed every time a plane takes off or arrives.

05. Barra International Airport, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Rather than think about where to build a tarmac airstrip when you're short on space, the Outer Hebridean island of Barra took a different approach - it didn't bother with one.

Pilots wait until the tide is out and then land on the beach, reportedly the only airport in the world where scheduled flights touch down on sand.

06. Paro Airport, Bhutan

In pride of place might stand the only international airport in the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan
Descending into a narrow, high altitude bowl amid 6,000 meter peaks, pilots - who have to be specially trained to land here - bank their jets in a sharp right turn before swooping in low over farm houses.

07. Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan

Landing on an aircraft carrier looks thrilling. You can experience a good second best at Japan's Kansai International Airport, where the two runways appear to float on the water way out in Osaka Bay.

Actually located on a purpose built artificial island, to minimize noise pollution for city residents, the runways are in fact sizeable affairs (both more than three kilometers long) and connected to the mainland by a four kilometer bridge.

08. Harstad Airport/Narvik, Norway

On the approach to Harstad/Narvik Airport in the region of Evenes, planes skirt through fjord land, over frozen lakes and between snows covered mountains. Arriving at the settlement of Hammerfest, in the country's extreme northeast, feels like touching down on an ice rink at certain times of the year.

09. Madeira Airport, Funchal, Portugal

Madeira's international airport looks as if it's been cheating in a tricky runway competition.
Sandwiched between a steep hillside and the sea, its dramatically short tarmac strip is extended on stilts over the water to make it long enough for a safe touchdown.

10. Male Airport, Maldives

Built on its very own island, Hulhulé, the runway is a only six feet above sea level.
After descending over the 26 islands Maldives archipelago, undercarriages feel so close to the sea on touchdown it's as if they're skimming along the water.

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