Watch a plane land at the "world's most dangerous airport"

Originally published at: Watch a plane land at the "world's most dangerous airport" | Boing Boing


The cheers at the end of the landing was by far the best part. But the shortest runway in Saba would like to have a word.


That’s a pucker factor 9 on that one.


The fact that it’s almost 10,000 feet altitude doesn’t help either - not much lift available on your flaps.


“Most dangerous airport,” yet the statistics on crashes show a remarkable safety record. Numbers of fatalities is also low. If not for the one accident in which 18 were lost at one time the stats would be pretty unremarkable.
It’s not that the airport isn’t dangerous. It’s that the record shows the pilots going in and out of there are well trained for the conditions. Which is always the key to good safety records.
(FWIW I’m a 40 year pilot and a longtime student of crash stats.)


May I just take the stairs? /s


The view of the Mountains is breathtaking. The amount of vertical space is stunning, and so different from what I’m used to. Makes me want to travel to Nepal. While I’m waiting out Covid maybe I can find a video game that simulates mountains to hold me over.

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Flew in to Lukla here back in 2004. I believe I saw wreckage in the canyon below the airstrip. Yikes!

Our plane was loaded down with cases of beer - which are carried all the way to Everest basecamp. We really hoped the plane wasn’t too heavy!

Whenever you think your job is challenging perhaps think of these guys who supply the world’s most unencumbered hikers all their booze:


Not as cool as having a mountain at the end of the runway, but still a high pucker factor: Nanwalek, AK. It’s a Alaska Native village that’s a stop on the way to/from another village I used to do some work for, where the runway is on a narrow patch of land between Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains. So anyone going to any of the other villages along the coast there almost always have to land in Nanwalek first.

The approach is to either land on the part of the runway that curves, or make a sharp bank at low altitude to avoid the nearby cliffs.

Curved landing:

Banked landing:


I haven’t been there, but I believe the countryside immediately around the runway is littered with wrecked aeroplanes and you can’t help but notice them as you arrive and (hopefully) depart.

…according to a single program on the History Channel. I’m curious what the actual most dangerous airport is, in terms of rates of crashes, injuries/fatalities, etc.


Surely someone has made a video by now, like the ones of a walk through an English countryside or a bicycle ride through Tokyo? :man_shrugging:


I presume that the taxi-way being steeply sloped is to aid with deceleration on landing, and acceleration on take off. Seeing the plane do that sharp turn on to the taxi-way was quite amazing. I’m only used to seeing planes manoeuvre on the group at low speed.

Greatest number of shark, bear and marmot attacks.


The old Quito Ecuador airport at 9,200 ft comes to mind. It’s been moved to safer location because, well, you know, crashes and volcanos.

Even the new one makes it pucker.


The main reason I bought an Xbox was to play the latest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, which lets you fly anywhere on earth. (I used to fly real planes but that’s an expensive and not 100% safe hobby which is hard to justify when I’ve got three little kids at home.) Landing at this specific airport is one of the popular challenges that people do on that game. I’ve succeeded more often than not, but it’s definitely intimidating, and that’s in a game when there’s nothing but your pride on the line.


Honorable mention for Paro Airport in Bhutan:

Flights to and from Paro are allowed under visual meteorological conditions only and are restricted to daylight hours from sunrise to sunset. Paro airport was the only airport in Bhutan until 2011.


I like the joke about La Paz, Bolivia’s airport- “aircraft don’t descend to land, they fly level and then just stop.”


Dangerous is right!
The lower right corner of first few frames looked very familiar to me, like I had seen that area from a different angle in another video (gruesome NSFW Final Destination stuff). Look and you’ll find it.

Airport footage and a news story (SFW).


I see what they mean about no go-arounds. So do they just close the airport if the wind is coming from the other direction?

The airport in Funchal, Madeira is pretty dangerous too. Part of the issues is that it’s nowhere near other land or another airport. If they decide it’s too windy to land, you fly back to mainland Europe.