The world’s scariest airports

SmarterTravel, an online travel site, has released its list of the World’s 10 Scariest Airports for takeoff and landing. While aimed at airline passengers, the airports also prove challenging for GA pilots, with inconveniently placed volcanoes and runways formed when the tide goes out.

SmarterTravel picks for the World’s Scariest Airports include:

  1. Barra Airport, Barra, Scotland: It’s always a beach landing and runways form when the tide goes out.
  2. Gibraltar Airport, Gibraltar: The main road to Spain intersects the runway.
  3. Toncontin International Airport, Tegucigalpa, Honduras: A 45° bank and quick drop in altitude.
  4. Nantucket Memorial Airport, Nantucket, Massachusetts: Fog often forces pilots to rely solely on instruments.
  5. Paro Airport, Paro, Bhutan: Mountainous terrain means every flight is an aeronautical feat.
  6. Yeager Airport, Charleston, West Virginia: Located on a flattened mountaintop, so overshooting the runway means dropping over a cliff.
  7. La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City, Guatemala: A startling approach weaves through volcanoes and mountains.
  8. LaGuardia Airport, New York City, New York: Crowded airspace (JFK/Newark are nearby) and main runways extend over water.
  9. Wellington International Airport, Wellington, New Zealand: Windy and the northern approach threads local hills and trolley lines.
  10. John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, California: Noise ordinances force pilots to quickly reduce throttle on takeoff.

What do you think the scariest airport is? Add it below in the comment area and we’ll compile a list for an upcoming issue of the print edition of General Aviation News.


  1. Rich says

    Tegucigalpa, Honduras. It is in a valley with mountains around, there also is a road crossing at the end of the runway. Strictly a VFR operation. Another one is Kodiak, Alaska. The landing runway ends at the foot of a mountain, so your missed approach point is back a far distance from the runway.

  2. Wiliam s. lyons MD says

    Unless I’m mistaken, Aspen, Co is considered the most dangerous in the lower 48 by accident record. I’ve flown in there with a T210 about 50 times, mostly in ski season. Airport is at 8000 ft and minimum descent on instrument approach is 10,000 ft. I’ve diverted to Grand Junction only once and landed at Denver as a precaution only once. What a mistake; driving was a 6 hr really scary ordeal. I resolved never to do THAT again. But the point is this; when you know you know the airport well, as scary as it looks, it’s not so scary.

  3. Charles R. Wirt says

    I don’t understand why flying IAW FAR’s reqiuring IFR makes Nantucket dangerous. If you are not qualified, current and competent, don’t do it. If you can’t live with being stuck there til it clears, don’t go there.

  4. Ryan Cook says

    Dutch Harbor, AK, USA
    Steep approach and short runways…makes for hairy landings and uncomfortable takeoffs.

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