The World's Scariest Runways

Doug Houghton / Alamy

Nail-biting landings and harrowing takeoffs—buckle up when you fly into these airports.

Madeira Airport, Funchal

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Who Flies There: Most scheduled (and many charter) European carriers.

Why It’s Harrowing: Wedged in by mountains and the Atlantic, Madeira Airport requires a clockwise approach for which pilots are specially trained. Despite a unique elevated extension that was completed back in 2000 and now expands the runway length to what should be a comfortable 9,000 feet, the approach to Runway 05 remains a hair-raising affair that pilots absolutely dread. They must first point their aircraft at the mountains and, at the last minute, bank right to align with the fast-approaching runway.

The World's Scariest Runways

Madeira Airport, Funchal

Who Flies There: Most scheduled (and many charter) European carriers.

Why It’s Harrowing: Wedged in by mountains and the Atlantic, Madeira Airport requires a clockwise approach for which pilots are specially trained. Despite a unique elevated extension that was completed back in 2000 and now expands the runway length to what should be a comfortable 9,000 feet, the approach to Runway 05 remains a hair-raising affair that pilots absolutely dread. They must first point their aircraft at the mountains and, at the last minute, bank right to align with the fast-approaching runway.

Doug Houghton / Alamy
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