The Scariest Airports in the Caribbean

Google Sightseeing has just posted a near article about the Top 3 Scariest Airports in the Caribbean.
The three airports they’ve chosen are:
• Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten
• Gustaf III Airport, Saint Barthélemy
• Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba
They would all certainly be crazy places to fly into. Here’s what the airport on the island of Saba looks like:

Scary airport on Saba

For more, read their full article or download the KML file to view them for yourself.
Have you flown into any of these airports? Or do you know of others that deserve to be on this list?

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. You think those are scary? Try landing at Bramble Airport on Montserrat during a dome collapse and pyroclastic flow.

  2. Stuart Goldman says

    I think the recent genesis of this is an article from Popular Mechanics. My girlfriend sent it to me earlier in the week:
    I looked at many of the airports in Google Maps prior to see the abbreviated list on Sightseeing. I was curious about the one in Gibraltar. The PopMech article has a couple of other videos with it, too.

  3. I have flown into Culebra (18°18′48″ N, 65°18′16″ W) and it’s pretty hairy. Through a gap between two mountains and then a hard turn & drop to the runway.
    According to Wikipedia, it’s “considered good practice” for Saint Barthélemy

  4. The only scary airport I regularly deal with is LEB (Lebanon, NH), which the Google Earth terrain doesn’t do justice to (it’s on top of a hill, and has retty steep dropoffs on three of the four runway headings, two of which the drop is onto I-89)
    I’ve been on quite a few scary military airstrips, however.

  5. not in Caribbean but i think the Courchevel Airport in France is pretty scary. its on a mountain slope. and the airport itself is sloped pretty much.

  6. David Scott says

    Sumburgh in the Shetland Isles of Scotland should be on the list too, but on another Scottish Island: Barra (look up Barra Aerodrome), they actually land on the beach!

  7. I’ve never been there, but also the Gibilterra Airport (Gibraltar, Spain) looks pretty scary too

  8. in Colombia’s north coast, the airport of Turbo

  9. I’ve flown into the airport Gustaf III airport in St. Barts from St. Maarten four times on Winair and each time it is quite a breathtaking experience. You want to help the pilot push on the brakes! You come in between two hills aiming down at the runway, and if the plane can’t stop quickly you’ll be on the beach in no time!

  10. catalina island airport, california

  11. The scariest airport in my view (St Maarten is a piece of cake in comparison) is Tegucigalpa’s (Toncontin). You have to appeoach flying between two mountains, then turn 90 degrees left and plunge 300 mts into a short airstrip that starts on an avenue (until recently a red light would stop the traffic at each landing) and ends about 30 mts above the backyards of the houses below

  12. O’hare International in Chicago. I dread flying fromthere because of the long lines, tarmac waits, traffic and security. I dread landing there because you have to wait in the air and orbit as other planes land ahead of you. Overall, a very gut wrenching experience.

  13. aerodromes in the Highlands of Papua New Guines

  14. greypound says

    An approach to Gibraltar airport is normally OK in fine weather although you have to touch down close to the threshold. In strong wind conditions, however, it can become a little ‘hairy’ if the wind comes from behind the rock. I operated from there in the 70s, flying an ancient Canberra T17, and often encountered strong turbulence moments before touchdown requiring full control deflections to survive! On one occasion I had to divert after two approaches had to be thrown away within a few feet of the runway.
    I know that modern passenger aircraft are easier to control but as a passenger I still shudder as we pass through turbulence on final approach.

  15. Vincent Cruz says

    Just for information GIBRALTAR is NOT in Spain, we are a BRITISH Territory, we are GIBRALTARIANS and BRITISH. Thank you.

  16. I can promise you that the airfield on New Island, The Falklands, at 51°44’50.12″S 61°16’52.27″W is as exciting as it ever gets due to its short length, high crosswinds and turbulence.
    I agree about Tegucigalpa where I have previously landed : see

  17. Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas, USVI…On December 28, 1970, Trans Caribbean Airways Flight 505 made a hard landing and ran off the side of the runway. Two of the 48 passengers died in the subsequent fire.
    On April 27, 1976, American Airlines Flight 625 ran off the end of the runway, killing 37 of the 88 on board the aircraft. Following the crash, American Airlines suspended jet service to the airport, using propliners until the runway was rebuilt to its present length.
    Visit the airport on the west end of the island via Google Earth! You come in right over the water and just when you think you’ll be landing in the water, you touch ground and slam brakes reversing thrust.

  18. Cody Cowdin says

    SFO – Landing in San Francisco (U.S.) can be sphincter-clenching… You approach the runway just a few feet over San Francisco bay, and are often buffeted by the swirling winds that accost the airport. On top of that, the background for the pilots is deceiving – So much so that when autopilot systems and flight simulators were first being developed, the inputs for the flight controls had to be recalibrated to visually “lie” to the pilot so he/she wouldn’t put the plane down in the wrong (ahem) place. I am sure there are a few pilots out there with some “interesting” stories about landing in San Francisco…

  19. I thought we were discussing the scariest airports in “The Carribean”?

  20. Wellington airport in New Zealand is extremely sporting, and very turbulent due to the strong winds that funnel through the Cook Strait. Lots of interesting videos of fairly dramatic landings there and decades of interesting stories.
    Local professional pilots have no major issues there due to their decades of experience flying in and out of Wellington. But… pilots who only visit occasionally in airliners can get one helluva fright on a stormy day (and there are lots of them!).
    Particularly dangerous is when there is a howling northerly wind at the airport, and a southerly gale comes in from the south. The moment the southerly hits Wellington airport, a 20, 25, 30 or 40 knot headwind can disappear, literally in seconds, the wind then shifts to a howling southerly tailwind.
    In other words – as you come in to land towards the north, you can be ‘riding’ the southerly in (with a big tailwind, and high descent rate)…. but the tower is still reporting a 30 knot headwind on the ground. As you cross the fence that can disappear and give you a huge blast of tailwind. There are many stories of aircraft becoming very unstable in those last stages of the approach and having to go around for another attempt to land.
    The Falkland Islands Mount Pleasant airport is susceptible to very strong winds, turbulence and windshear and is one of the few airports for which the military have a special turbulence code.
    Kathmandu airport in Nepal has a very interesting approach, due to the high ground as do many airports in Central and South America. Bogota is also a case in point.

    • Kenny James says

      How about Congonhas-São Paulo Airport? It’s built on a hill and it’s runway 35L has been notorious for accidents…

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.