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Top ten most extreme airports

US Airways Boeing 757 on final approach to St Maarten Juliana International Airport (SXM) in Netherlands Antilles, October, 8, 2009.
US Airways Boeing 757 on final approach to St Maarten Juliana International Airport (SXM) in Netherlands Antilles, October, 8, 2009.
Wikipedia Creative Commons - Public Domain

The History Channel has ranked the world's ten most extreme airports, which is also available on a 100 minute long DVD.

The airports on the list are included because of their extreme locations at high altitudes, difficult approaches, or short runways, all of which make landings challenging, and some would say even dangerous.

In tenth place on the list is San Diego International Airport (SAN), formerly known as Lindbergh Field, the busiest single runway facility in the United States. The FAA flight controllers at the airport have handled as many as 55 takeoffs and landings an hour, and up to 550 flights a day. It is located within two miles of the downtown city center.

There has only been one major accident at SAN, which involved a midair collision between Pacific Southwest Airlines flight 182, a Boeing 727-200, and a private Cessna 172 on September 25, 1978. It resulted in a death toll of 144, making it the deadliest aircraft disaster in California history. It was also the first Pacific Southwest Airlines accident involving fatalities.

As a result of that accident, the FAA changed airport approach patterns across the United States to better separate private light aircraft and commercial aviation.

Many experts believe that San Diego International Airport should not be included on the listing of extreme airports, while others in the community disagree, and feel that it has outgrown its usefulness. In 2006, San Diego taxpayers voted against building a new airport away from the city center, about 35 miles northeast of the present location, either sharing the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (NKX), or separate from but near that facility.

The complete list of the world's ten most extreme airports, according to the History Channel, follows:

01 - Tenzing-Hillary Airport (LUA), aka Lukla Airport, Lukla, Nepal
02 - Toncontín International Airport (TGU), Tegucigalpa, Honduras
03 - Gibraltar Airport (GIB) aka North Front Airport, Gibraltar
04 - Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
05 - Gustaf III Airport (SBH), aka St. Jean Airport, Saint Jean, Saint Barthélemy (Saint Barts)
06 - Kai Tak Airport (HKG), Hong Kong
07 - Courchevel Airport (CVF), Courchevel, France
08 - Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), aka Vail/Eagle Airport, Gypsum, Colorado
09 - Madeira Airport (FNC), Funchal, Madeira, Portuguese archipelago
10 - San Diego International Airport (SAN) - aka Lindbergh Field, San Diego, CA

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Comments

  • Profile picture of Beverly Mucha
    Beverly Mucha 4 years ago

    I have been to the one in San Diego but the others - most of them my husband had been to over the years of traveling back and forth to France and all the traveling to 82 countries in the Navy. Glad I didn't know about this way back when.

    Winona Cooking Examiner
    Winona Home and Living Examiner

  • Chi Meng 4 years ago

    But Kai Tak has been closed for 12 years!

  • Profile picture of Joel Siegfried
    Joel Siegfried 4 years ago

    Thank you Chi Meng for you comment. You are correct in that Kai Tak was closed on July 6, 1998, replaced by the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok. However, because of the difficulty pilots had faced lining up for final approach to Kai Tak's Runway 13, the History Channel awarded it sixth place on its listing of Top Ten Extreme Airports.

    I do appreciate your taking the time to comment, and adding to the accuracy of this article. Thank you again.

    Cheers,

    Joel

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    You've got #9 and #8 swapped. Watching now.

  • Profile picture of Joel Siegfried
    Joel Siegfried 3 years ago

    Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, and pointing out the swap in sequence, which I've now corrected.

    Thanks again for your remarks.

    Cheers,
    Joel

    Joel Siegfried
    National Desk - Airlines/Airport Examiner
    Email: ecto@cox.net
    Examiner Home Page
    Portfolio Page

  • Manuel 3 years ago

    Watched part of the ahow on tv, did not have the chance to record it, can you please tell me what is the name of this show and where can I get a copy of this DVD? Thank you very much for your help.

  • Profile picture of Joel Siegfried
    Joel Siegfried 3 years ago

    Hello Manuel,

    Thank you for your comment. This program was originally broadcast on the History Channel, which also is making it available on a DVD that is being sold online for USD $24.95. Here is a link to that product::
    http://shop.history.com/detail.php?p=292556

    You can also order it by phone from this toll free number: 1-800-933-6249

    I hope this information has been of help to you.

    Thanks again for leaving a comment.

    Cheers,
    Joel

    Joel Siegfried
    National Desk - Airlines/Airport Examiner
    National Desk - News Analysis Examiner
    Email: ecto@cox.net
    Airlines/Airport Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/airlinesairport-in-national/joel-siegfried
    News Analysis Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/news-analysis-in-national/joel-siegfried
    Portfolio Page: http://members.cox.net/joel.siegfried

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    phuket, mangalore , cuzco, aspen, all worse than some on your list

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    To omit the airport on Saba (the shortest commercial airport in the world) reflects a certain degree of ignorance on the part of the producers. Possibly they have reserved this airport for a"Beyond Extreme" category.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    The San Diego Airport is still dangerous. I missed the begining of your program on the History channel today, twice when [SAN] would have been on! Did they mention the danger of Linbergh field now lies in the fact a stingy developer built a parking structure in the landing flight path that is about jumping distance to the planes overhead? The corruption in this town to special chosen interests is astounding. It is only a matter of time before a plane finds a slight down draft and slams into that structure. On a good day, they are not too far above it now. I hope to catch the show again when it is repeated, when ever that will be.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    You switched numbers 3 and 5 as well.

  • Finnair Bird 3 years ago

    First: Madeira Airport (LPMA) /Funchal / Madeira Islands has nothing to do with the Azores. They are completely diferent archipelagos, although both portuguese. Plus, the Madeira airport is not that dangerous anymore. Has a biger runway and more secure safe zones than for example (LPPD) Ponta Delgada airport in the Azores, not to mention other airports there like Horta (LPHR). The Azores also get much worst weather than Madeira.

  • Finnair Bird 3 years ago

    First: Madeira Airport (LPMA) /Funchal / Madeira Islands has nothing to do with the Azores. They are completely diferent archipelagos, although both portuguese. Plus, the Madeira airport is not that dangerous anymore. Has a biger runway and more secure safe zones than for example (LPPD) Ponta Delgada airport in the Azores, not to mention other airports there like Horta (LPHR). The Azores also get much worst weather than Madeira.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    Ref: San Diego - Miramar is 10 miles, not 35 and to the commentor on the Parking Structure, Its a total non-issue and you are perpetuating an urban legend.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    Madeira is an archipelago, Azores is another. Please correct that. I'm from Madeira, I land on that airport every single time I want to get out of the island. It is not that dangerous anymore. Not a single inccident has occured in the 25years i've been flying out of there.

  • Jos 2 years ago

    The "Runway Overrun" pictures in the slideshow are not taken at St Maarten's Princess Juliana airport. These pictures are taken at St Barths airport.

  • Anonymous 2 years ago

    Can't understand Saba is not included, shortest landing strip for commercial use in the world 400 m, only a couple of airplane types can land and take of on this field. On approach first to a straight cliff and at the last moment a sharp turn to line up for landing. At take of the engines first have to be pushed to full RPM's and then just drive of the cliff drop down and get airborne.

  • Anonymous 2 years ago

    very interesting articles.I remember landing on madeira on 2008 and it was breath taking. I also came across another article found here http://www.successismyname.com/2012/07/31/worlds-most-dangerous-airports...

    If you read both articles together, they complement very well and gives you another perspective of world's dangerous airport

    Good luck all

  • Michael 2 years ago

    Paro, Bhutan has the most unique/difficult approach I have seen.

  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    I've landed at many of these airports and I can't believe the airports missing from the list.

    Just for a start the Azores airport is a lot more scary than the Madeira airport.

    Then any pilot will tell you that landing at Rongotai (Wellington International Airport) is a truly scary event when the cross winds whip up. Its the only airport landing where a passenger can look out the window while landing and see the whole runway ahead because the plane is coming in at an angle and only straightens up at the last minute.

    I've been diverted back to Auckland two times because the winds went above the safe limit.

    Lugano Airport in Switzerland is one of the quickest descents depending on which way the wind is blowing.

  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    So are #5 and #3. #5 - Gibraltar, #3 - Gustaf III.

  • Sam Leikind 1 year ago

    I think that Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport in Saba and Paro International Airport in Bhutan should have been included in the list. Because they are two of the most dangerous airports in the world.

  • Charles Doane 11 months ago

    I have been to a few of these: Gib, the old Hong Kong airport, Madeira, SXM. I'm wondering if they looked at Saba as a possibility.

  • DannyBoy2k 6 months ago

    Sccording to the show, nr 5 is Gibraltar and nr 3 is St. Barts. Just so's you know.