Pilots are an incredibly skilled bunch as this selection of truly hair raising and downright dangerous airport landings show. We’ve scoured YouTube to bring you the standout videos that make you go WOW. And if you’re a nervous flyer look away now!
Hairy landing at Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten
Although discerning travellers give this airport two thumbs up, it is at the top of the list of some of the most dangerous airports in the world. It is also one of the busiest airports in the Caribbean. It was built for small and medium planes. However, jumbos such as A340s and the 747s do land here. The bad news is that the airport's landing strip is just too short at only 7,150 feet long; Large aircraft need at least 8,000 feet to insure a safe landing while some really heavy planes require 10,000 feet.
Watch the video above – how on earth does that plane not take the roof off the red car?!
Scary Kai Tak Airport landing in Hong Kong
At one time, travelers were quite upbeat about Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong. However, this was before it was christened “the mother of all scary airports.” The airport that brought us the most dangerous airport landings on earth closed in 1998, it used to be the base of Cathay Pacific as well as many regional carriers. Aircraft pilots were careful to infuse dollops of caution when making a landing or taking off. If a plane missed the runway, chances that it would stop at Victoria Harbour could not be ruled out. Travelers had to be afraid, very afraid.
Watch the video compilation above which shows the sheer skill needed to navigate the skyscrapers, mountains and harbour – it’s incredible!
Hair-raising landing at Lukla Airport in Nepal
Visitors to Mount Everest frequently use this Nepalese airport. The airport is not expansive and the landing and take-off strips here too are very short; No 15 minute taxi for planes that land here; the runway is so short that a few seconds after landing, the pilot must make sure that the plane comes to a complete stop to avoid falling some 3,300 feet. Every successful landing and take-off brings forth cheers and applause from both passengers and crew.
Watch our video above – The Lukla airstrip is known as a ‘ski jump’ as there is a 10% incline!
Slippery landing on the Ice Runway in Antarctica
The fact that there are no paved runways in Antarctica is enough to make you bite your fingers. Everything under the plane is a long stretch of manicured snow and ice. The one crucial challenge is the weight of the aircraft that must land on this runway. The weight of each plane must be checked to avoid it cracking the ice landing strip or the plane getting stuck in the snow.
Watch the video above – This looks like a pretty smooth landing but there is so much potential for error!
Extreme landings at Wellington International Airport in New Zealand
To those who call it home, flying into Wellington airport is a joy, but it is not for the faint at heart. Sometimes the danger approaches just when it is almost time to disembark. The runway is too short, a mere 6,351 feet. What further adds to the fear associated with landing at this airport is the strong winds that sweep across the airport and the fact that the runway sort of appears to end in crystal blue waters.
Watch the video above – whoa that is some serious wind!
Nail-biting landings at Courchevel International Airport in France
The Courchevel airport is known to have the shortest runway at just 525 meters long, added to that the runway has a gradient of 18.5%; aspects that affect take-offs and landings daily. Here, pilots are required to navigate the popular Alps Mountain before landing. If that is not enough to give you goosebumps, planes must touch down at inclined angles just to slow down.
Watch the video above – great insider's guide to Courchevel.
Stunning city views when landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, USA
Owing to the 7,000 foot runway that was extended in the 1960’s over water, pilots must avoid interfering with flights in and out of nearby JFK and Newark also in New York City. Another disturbing fact: A peek at the airport's location shows that it is located just eight miles from the city of Midtown Manhattan.
Watch the video above – This video is WOW for a different reason; the video of the awesome NTC skyline is amazing!