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12 Of The Strangest Runways In The World

1) Gibraltar International Airport - Gibraltar

Winston Churchill Avenue (the main road heading toward the land border with Spain) intersects the airport runway, and needs to be shut down for departing and arriving aircraft. Talk about a traffic jam.


2) Copalis State Airport (S16) - USA

This airstrip is located on an ocean beach near the mouth of the Copalis River. It's the only airport in Washington State where landing on the beach is legal.


3) Madeira International Airport - Portugal

In 2000, the runway was extended 9,124 ft, almost doubling the size of the original runway. Since landfill wasn't a realistic option, the extension was built on a platform, partly over the ocean. The runway is supported by 180 columns, each about 230 feet tall.


4) Pegasus White Ice Runway - Antarctica

It's the principal runway for the US Antarctic Program during the summer Antarctic field season, due to its proximity to McMurdo Station. The runway is actually capable of handling wheeled aircraft. So far, Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, Lockheed C-141 Starlifter, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft have all landed there. In the summer season of 2009/2010, a modified Boeing 757 landed on the ice runway as well.


5) Courchevel International Airport - France

When you fly into Courchevel, you're landing to have a world-class skiing experience in the Alps...but you might not anticipate the the runway to be a ski slope itself. The runway is only 1,762 feet long, it has a gradient of 18.6%, and there's no go-around procedure for landings because of the terrain.


6) Kansai International Airport - Japan

Construction started in 1987 and finished in 1994. The sea wall was finished in 1989 (made of rock and 48,000 tetrahedral concrete blocks). And with three mountains excavated for 27 million cubic yards of landfill, it was quite the project building this massive island. Oh yeah, don't forget about the 10,000 workers and 10 million work hours over three years, using eighty ships, that were needed just to complete the 98 ft layer of earth over the sea floor and inside the sea wall.


7) Gustaf III Airport - Saint Barthelemy

Winds usually favor Runway 10 at the St. Barths Airport, meaning you'll fly an extremely steep approach down a hill to the short runway below. Just make sure you remember how to go around... there's not much room for error here.


8) Princess Juliana International Airport - Saint Maarten

Imagine a Boeing 747 rushing 30 feet above your head at 170mph, all while you sit on one of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean.

Timo Breidenstein

9) Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport - Saba

Click here to read a full article on this incredibly unique airport in the Caribbean. Needless to say, with a 1,300 foot runway and cliffs to the ocean on either end, you'll probably need to review your short field landings before flying here.


10) Barra Airport - Scotland

Barra Airport is situated in the wide shallow bay of Traigh Mhor at the north tip of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The airport is unique, being the only one in the world where scheduled flights use a beach as the runway.


11) Toncontin International Airport - Honduras

Landing at the Toncontin International Airport in the center of Tegucigalpa, Honduras means flying a challenging approach straight down a large hill. Pilots from the United States have to go through specialized training just to be eligible for landings here.

12) Dauphin Island Airport (4R9) - USA

Surrounded by water, it doesn't get much closer to an aircraft carrier landing for general aviation pilots. And since it's in Alabama, you don't have to travel far to experience this unique runway.

Derek Pasiewicz

Those are 12 of the best runways we found - what other strange runways do you know of?

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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