Image: Reinhard Kraasch
Treacherous mountains, turbulent winds, and sunbathers so close that they can seemingly reach out and touch the airplane’s wheels. The following ten extraordinary runways are certainly not for the faint of heart. Yet incredibly, these far-from-normal landing areas bring in millions of passengers from around the globe. We’re presuming the intrepid travelers all hoped their given pilot was on top form on their day of departure, as at one location in particular a deviation at either end of the airstrip would mean instant death.
Forget roller coasters; these takeoffs and landings offer thrill-seekers the most hair-raising, adrenaline-inducing experiences around. From sheer drops to jagged mountains, there’s something here to get the heart of even the most veteran flyer racing.
Image: Tom Claytor
10. Matekane Air Strip – Lesotho
Matekane Air Strip’s 1,300-foot-long runway in the tiny monarchy of Lesotho is so short that planes sometimes aren’t even on their ascents by the time they leave it. Rather, they plunge off the end and into a stomach-churning 2,000-foot drop, falling until the takeoff begins in earnest.
Image: Thomas A
Located at an elevation of more than 7,500 feet, the tiny airstrip certainly isn’t one for the faint-hearted. Mercifully, though, the runway – and other high-altitude ones like it in the region – is the domain of the country’s Flying Doctors Service, with its pilots expertly handling single-engine planes to reach various isolated healthcare facilities.