Buckle up and get ready for some turbulence.
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Originally published by Travel + Leisure
The airport of the Isle of Barra is the only one in the world that’s actually just a beach. It sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and is often cited among the world’s scariest landings for its notoriously short runway. And one of the other runways goes underwater and is off-limits during high tide.
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This is one of the most famous airport descents in the world. Landing at Princess Juliana Airport entails some tricky maneuvering wherein a pilot takes the aircraft directly over a beach, filled with people tanning, splashing in the water, and plane-spotting.
Getting into St. Bart's involves a teeth-clenching descent through a flurry of crosswinds. And it’s not much easier getting out: Pilots fly directly over a beach where people are inevitably laying out.
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For explorers who aim to climb Mount Everest, the first stop is often this vertigo-inducing mountainside airport. It’s been named the “world’s scariest airport” for its small runway (only 500 meters) that was carved into a mountain ridge and sits right next to a 9,800-foot drop.
The approach to Madeira Airport is one where nervous fliers should keep their eyes closed. In fact, in order to land there, pilots must undergo specific, additional training. The runway is not only short, it’s often a site of strong winds and turbulence. On either side of the runway are rocky hills and after the airport, it’s a straight drop into the ocean.
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The runway at Gibraltar International Airport is exceptional for one very nerve-wracking reason: It intersects with the island’s busiest road. When airplanes need to land, traffic on the four-lane highway is stopped for 10 minutes.
Related: France's Best Beaches
This mountainside airport was made famous in the James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies." It’s considered among the most dangerous in the world for its uphill landing strip and ski slopes that sit precariously close.
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Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport is one of the most photographable on the continent. The airport is bordered by tons of skyscrapers and mountains to the north while its only runway is one that juts straight out into Victoria Harbor.
Saba’s airport is known for having the shortest landing strip in the world. It’s only 400 meters long and, at the very end of the runway, there’s a cliff and steep descent right into the Caribbean Sea.