Image: Pia L
9. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – Saba, West Indies
Given its seemingly precarious position perched above wave-battered rocks and with a Caribbean Sea gulf at either end, it’s safe to say that Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport’s 1,300-foot runway leaves pilots with absolutely no wriggle room. The rugged terrain of the island of Saba can’t be ignored during the descent to the strip, either, while takeoffs are scarcely less dramatic – with planes taxiing to one end of the short runway before spinning around and appearing to head toward the water.
Image: Jochen Hagemann
Furthermore, it isn’t just a runway shorter than an Olympic running track that’s an issue for pilots here: spray from the sea can be problematic, as can gale-force winds. Indeed, it’s not hard to see why taking off and landing at the 1963-opened runway are among the most frightening flying experiences imaginable. Just as well, then, that local carrier Winair operates only four daily flights.
Image: Donnie Shackleford
8. Princess Juliana International Airport – St. Martin, West Indies
Waves lap against the shore. The sweltering afternoon sun beats down on bronzed holidaymakers. Children laugh as they play on the beach. Then suddenly, the ferocious roar of a jet engine dramatically interrupts the idyllic scene as it passes just tens of feet overhead. No, this isn’t a scene from some disaster movie but, rather, the everyday occurrence of a plane coming in to land at St. Martin’s Princess Juliana International Airport.