Image: Aldo Bidini
At 7,546 feet in length, the runway on the Caribbean island surprisingly handles huge passenger jets filled with European and American vacationers, as well as smaller craft. In fact, more than 1.5 million travelers a year are accommodated by the airport, which began life in 1942 as a U.S. Air Force landing strip. And today aircraft fly in so low that it has become a tourist attraction in itself, with beach bums hoping to catch the engine blasts from the planes as they descend.
Image: Alexander Baxevanis
7. Madeira Airport – Santa Cruz, Madeira
Wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and towering island peaks is the precariously positioned Madeira Airport. Indeed, even veteran pilots find landing here difficult when tumultuous weather conditions are thrown into the mix. The dicey runway itself measured only 5,250 feet when the airport began operating in 1964, and it was deemed necessary to add a bridge-like extension in 1972 in order to provide a safe landing area for jetliners. However, that didn’t prevent a horrifying accident five years later.