Shortest Airport Runways That Seem to Defy Physics
On a regular flight, the typical commercial airport runway stretches out into the horizon so that you never even worry about it ending before the plane takes off. But in the quest to reach far-flung places, humans have built absurdly short runways that probably shouldn't even exist.
While most runways tend to measure more than 6,000 feet, the following 10 are all less than 2,000 feet long. This means that any small mistake can end in tragedy. But, on the other hand, if it all goes well, you'll have a cool experience to brag about.
Love adrenaline? Start planning a flight into some of the world's shortest commercial airport runways.
10. John A. Osborne Airport
Location: Gerald's, Montserrat
Runway length: 1,968 feet
The British Overseas Territory of Monserrat is a highly underrated Caribbean destination. As the third-least visited country/territory in the world, it only receives about 10,000 visitors per year. Part of the reason that so few people make it here is that much of the island was destroyed in a 1997 volcanic eruption — including the airport.
Those interested in visiting today can fly into the John A. Osborne Airport, whose tiny runway extends only 1,968 feet.
9. Courchevel Altiport
Location: Courchevel, France
Runway length: 1,762 feet
Situated high up in the French Alps, this altiport is not only shockingly short but also dangerous. Because of the mountainous terrain, the runway is sloped, and only specific aircraft are allowed to attempt the landing. Oh, and if the day is cloudy or foggy, you'll have to turn around.
Alpine Airlines is the only company that services this airport. Flying into it is not recommended for anyone but the brave of heart. On the plus side, if you land safely, you'll be in one of the most beautiful spots in France.
6. Papa Westray Airport (Tie)
Location: Papa Westray, Scotland
Runway length: 1,729 feet
Papa Westray Airport is famous for hosting the shortest flight in the world, which takes under two minutes. No, that's not a typo!
The airport services one of Scotland's rugged, remote and tiny Orkney Islands, with Loganair making the famed flight to Westray Airport. Not many people have the privilege of experiencing this flight, mostly because few make it to these islands. But if you like offbeat travel, you absolutely have to plan a trip here.
6. Westray Airport (Tie)
Location: Westray, Scotland
Runway length: 1,729 feet
On the other side of the ridiculously short flight, Westray Airport connects to Papa Westray Airport and Kirkwall, the main Orkney Island.
Visitors can expect cold but beautiful beaches, sand dunes and castles. The island's airport used to have the shortest runway in the world (measuring only 758 feet!), but it now uses a longer (though still short) and safer runway.
6. Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Tie)
Location: Lukla, Nepal
Runway length: 1,729 feet
If you plan on making the trek to the Everest Base Camp, you'll most likely get to experience what it's like to land on this extremely short runway set right in the Himalayas. Most flights come in from the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, bringing in enthusiastic climbers eager to push themselves to the limit.
The challenge starts with the flight itself, as conditions can be fairly dangerous, including high winds, cloudy conditions and mountainous terrain.
5. St. Mary's Airport
Location: Isles of Scilly, England
Runway length: 1,722 feet
The United Kingdom comes in once again with tiny airports servicing small islands. St. Mary's is the only airport in the Isles of Scilly. To fly in, you'll have to take the local Skybus, which offers flights to and from destinations like Cornwall and Exeter.
Planes are tiny, with only 19 seats, but flights are usually under an hour, and you'll get to see one of England's hidden gems.
4. Barbuda Codrington Airport
Location: Codrington, Barbuda
Runway length: 1,640 feet
Barbuda is the smaller half of Antigua and Barbuda, a Caribbean country known for its picture-perfect beaches. Its small airport receives charter and private flights, but you can also fly in commercially on ABM Air and FlyMontserrat.
Besides connecting to Antigua, you can also fly to the nearby British territory of Anguilla.
3. Doti Airport
Location: Dipayal Silgadhi, Nepal
Runway length: 1,608 feet
Nepal's shortest runway brings you to the lesser Himalayas. Only Nepal Airlines operates flights into Doti Airport since this region is remote and rarely frequented. This makes it perfect for intrepid adventurers who want to see a side of Nepal devoid of Everest tourism.
Besides being very short, the runway was only properly paved in 2020.
2. Heligoland Airfield
Location: Heligoland, Germany
Runway length: 1,575 feet
Most people ignore Germany's North Sea islands. But take a flight into Heligoland Airport in the summer to get into Düne. This little-known destination has dunes and beaches where undisturbed seals go to sunbathe.
You won't have to worry about fighting for sand space, and the landing is pretty safe, despite the runway measuring only 1,575 feet.
1. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport
Runway length: 1,312 feet
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport has the shortest commercial runway in the entire world. At a mere 1,312 feet, it's around 4.6 times shorter than most runways.
So, where does this micro-runway bring you to? The magical Caribbean island of Saba. If you haven't heard of it, don't feel bad — most people are in the same boat. But this Dutch Caribbean destination is a must-visit for anyone who likes to explore hidden places.
Just be prepared for the landing since the strip basically runs from the edge of a small peninsula to another, giving you the feeling that you'll land straight into the ocean. Not that you should worry too much, as accidents are extremely rare.