Many cities and regions throughout the world depend on tourism to supports its local economies. With that in mind, it is simply amazing that many of those same destinations have built airports that seem to defy the laws of physics, making them the most unbelievable airports around the world.
Some of the most unbelievable airports receive notoriety because of unusual features. For instance, Gisborne Airport in Gisborne, New Zealand, has a set of railway tracks running across the main runway on the way to the tarmac (one terminal and two gates). You don’t see that very often. In Gibraltar (a British territory), Gibraltar International Airport’s main runway intersects with a primary roadway that leads to the Spanish border. During departures and arrivals, roadway traffic has to be halted.
The Architectural Marvels
Prior to 2004, Madeira Airport in Santa Cruz, Portugal, was one of the trickiest landing spots in the world due to its precarious location and short runway. In 2004, the runway was raised and lengthened when engineers decided to place the runway on 180 concrete pillars measuring 70M in height. Due to this incredible architectural innovation, those same engineers received the 2004 Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering Award for “Outstanding Structure.”
In order to provide access for tourists, some regions are forced to place its airport in a strategically undesirable location. A great example of this can be found on St. Marteen island where planes seemingly skim the populated beaches of Maho Beach during takeoffs and landings. In the French Alps, Courchevel Airport provides pilots with a number of challenges. First, the runway is on an up-sloped terrain that ends at the base of a ski resort. Second, the runway is only 537M in length. Finally, landings must be made without the help of lights and instruments. As scary as Courchevel seems, nothing compares to the dangers of landing at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport on the Island of Saba in Caribbean. The airport features a meager 396M of concrete runway capped by a cliff both ends. If the pilot makes the slightest error, the plane ends up in the Caribbean Sea.
All of these truly unbelievable airport have one thing in common. They all leave new passengers scratching their heads, wondering what the architects were thinking when they decided that the building of these airports was a good idea. The good news is that very issues have popped up over the years, much to the delight of millions of travelers who make it home safe every year.