The World's Top 10 Scariest Airports

See the list here.

People always used to say Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak Airport was a knuckle-gripper, but I flew into there several times before they finally closed it down and never did find it very scary.

I knew Toncontin Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras was going to be there.

Watch a video of a typical approach if you dare:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_z5HtME9n8

Oh, scary in terms of the approaches and surrounding scenery, not in terms of how shitty the terminals are, pickpockets and muggers galore and such.

Okay - I’m sorry, but JFK and Reagan just don’t belong on this list. They might be more challenging for the pilots, but I’m a pretty nervous flyer, and I’ve never worried about flying into/out of either of these airports.

I wouldn’t say that Hong Kong was “scary”, but I could definitely see how flying directly at a mountain, then banking off to fly ten feet over hundreds of apartment buildings before landing could unnerve those who’ve never flown 80’s era Mexicana airlines.

My dad told me about flying in to Kai Tak (as a pilot) and it sounded a little hairy. Aim for the black-and-white marker on the hillside (a hillside covered with black-and-white buildings, he never saw the marker), turn toward the runway and on final approach the buildings get shorter and shorter until you’re at the runway. If everything goes right, no problem. If anything goes wrong, it sounds like it would have gotten very bad, very quickly.

I only flew into Kai Tak once in my life. That was once too often. That bank at the end scared me shitless.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx3Ccs5tKfw

Scary? pffft… I’ll tell you what’s a scary airport. The Kuala Lumpur international airport low cost airline terminal, the toilets will give you the fright of your life. :eek:

This is a lovely video of landings at Kai Tak. Wheeeeeeee!:smiley:

Reagan? What? I’ve always thought the flight path was a) scenic, and b) kind of fun. The scariest airport I’ve ever been through was the one in Ho Chi Minh City, although it’s been 10 years now. I distinctly remember coming in for landing and being disconcerted to see grass growing in the cracks in the runway. Frankly, I like my infrastructure to look, you know, maintained, but maybe I’m just picky.

The scary thing about the Gibraltar airport is that the border crossing is right next to the runway. In order to get into the airport and the rest of the city, you have to drive right across the runway! That was fun…

I’m sure it doesn’t rank with these, but San Jose Int’l is a thrill. One second you’re looking almost horizontally at homes in the hills, the next you’re diving at what feels like a 90 degree angle to slam into the runway.

I haven’t flown into JFK for years, but I agree Reagan isn’t scary at all. Lindberg field in San Diego is far scarier, and used to be on a list like this. You fly in below the top floors of some buildings - I went to a lawyer’s office where you could wave to people in the planes at eye level.

My scariest was a night landing in Yankton, South Dakota; the pilot almost touched down and did an immediate full power lift to avoid a few deer who had just wandered onto the runway. In the middle of a snow storm.

Some of those sound pretty hairy. But Reagan doesn’t belong there. I would nominate Juneau, Alaska instead. The approach has steep and densely wooded mountains on the left and ocean on the right: downdrafts anyone? Then you execute a last-minute steep bank to the left to line up with the runway. Taking off isn’t much better.

The most entertaining place I’ve landed was at Cape Romanzof, Alaska (there’s a radar site there). A dirt airstrip, rather than an airport, it’s located at the outflow of a volcanic caldera. The approach is over the Bering Sea, and one lands on an uphill grade between the steep sides of the caldera. There are three windsocks on the airstrip and I’ve seen them blowing in three different directions at the same time. The winds swirl around in there like dervishes, along with the usual up- and downdrafts, and quite often you are landing in clear air and taxiing into dense fog.

St. Maarten isn’t scary when you’re on the plane - it’s an easy approach from the sea. It’s when you’re on the perimeter road outside the fence and see a 747 20 ft over your head that you freak out.

Chicago Midway was always pretty funny - those runways seemed so short, you’d pop through your seatbelt.

From the description it seems that Reagan isn’t scary for passengers, necessarily, but maybe moreso for pilots due to all the restrictions and traffic.

I’ve seen the first landing in that sequence (the blue plane. Korean?) a bunch of times, and i’m always amazed at how they get it straightened out at the very last instant.

Here is an amazing sequence of pictures of a Nippon Cargo Airlines 747 landing at Kai Tak.

I remember my first time landing there, at the end of a long-haul flight from Vancouver. I was tired and drowsing in my seat at the pilot made his landing announcement. I heard him say that we’d be making a 45 degree right turn at about 500 feet, and in my stupor it never occurred to me that there was anything unusual about that.

But as we started to make the turn, i looked out the window, and it freaked the hell out of me. I was on the right-hand side of the plane, and all i could see were apartment building so close it seemed the wing was almost touching them. I could see people inside watching TV, and clothes strung on the balconies.

It wasn’t so bad the next time i did it, because i was prepared, but that first one really gave me a shoch, and i’m not at all a nervous flyer.

I can see how Lindbergh can look scary from outside, but i don’t find it very scary at all as a passenger. There are no dramatic last-minute turns, and while the city is very close to the flight path, it’s never really close enough to be frightening. I wouldn’t like to live in the neighborhood just north of downtown, though; that would be incredibly noisy.

Interestingly, San Diego’s worst air crash happened not down at the airport, but about a mile and a half from where i live, in the neighborhood of North Park. It was just over 30 years ago, and a Pacific Southwest 727 collided with a light aircraft and came down among the houses, killing everyone on board, 7 on the ground, and destroying 22 houses. Wiki link and photo gallery.

I think it’s Lanzarote, the one where the main departure runway ends at a cliff’s edge over the sea… either the plane goes up or it goes splash (one did go splash years ago). Definitely in the Canary Islands.

I realize it’s the opposite of the approach, but still quite scary if you ask me.