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8 Of The Toughest Airports In The US

Ready to put your pilot skills to the test? These airports will do it...

1) Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, Aspen, CO (KASE)

What makes Aspen so difficult? Lots of things. Because it's so close to the mountains, it's a one way in, one way out airport. At 7,837 feet field elevation, aircraft performance suffers. And with a 14,156 foot mountain peak within 10 miles of the airport, there's lots of hazardous terrain.


2) Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport, Sitka, AK (PASI)

It's surrounded by water, it gets foggy, and there are lots of birds in the area. Oh, did we mention there's mountains nearby too?


3) Sedona Airport, Sedona, Arizona (KSEZ)

Sedona is one of the most beautiful airports in the country. But because it's built on a mesa, there's little room for error. If you undershoot, you're in trouble. If you overshoot, you're in trouble.

Brian Snelson

4) Ingalls Field Airport, Hot Springs, VA (KHSP)

The top of a mountain was cut off for this airport. What's at the end of the runway? Not much, unless you look straight down.

Department of Aerospace And Ocean Engineering

5) Catalina Airport, Avalon, CA (KAVX)

Nicknamed "The Airport In The Sky", Catalina is another awesome destination. The runway was built by blasting two mountain tops and filling the gap between the two with 200,000 truckloads of rock.

Kyle Harmon

6) Telluride Regional Airport, Telluride, CO (KTEX)

Pucker factor is a 10 out of 10 in Telluride. First, you need to fly through a canyon to get there. Second, the airport is on a mesa. And on top of that, it's the second-highest airport in the US.

Granger Meador

7) Deerfield Valley Airport, West Dover, VT (4V8)

Ready to practice your short field takeoffs and landings? Located in the mountains of Vermont, Deerfield Valley Airport has a 2650 foot runway, with plenty of surrounding terrain.

Deerfield Valley Airport

8) Lake County Airport, Leadville, CO (KLXV)

Leadville is pretty wide open. So what's the problem? At 9930 feet, it's the highest airport in the US. Do a performance check before you land here. In the summer, there's a good chance you could land and not have the performance to take off again until next winter.


Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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