A bumpy landing can give even the most seasoned traveler the jitters, even if you know the odds are you’ll arrive safely. After all, flying is one of the safest modes of transportation out there. But at some airports, arrivals and departures are truly a white-knuckle experience. Flying into these airports isn’t totally unsafe — if the risk was too great, no airline or pilot would be attempting to land — but it can still put passengers (and sometimes even the crew) on edge.
At these 15 airports, steep cliffs, fierce crosswinds, and other factors combine to test the nerve of even the most frequent flyers.
1. Tenzing-Hillary Airport
For Mount Everest climbers, the adventure begins well before they reach base camp. First, they must endure the hair-raising flight into Nepal’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport (also known as Lukla Airport). The small airport is atop a high cliff, with a downward sloping runway that’s a mere 65 feet wide and 1,500 feet long. At one end of the pavement is a 2,000-foot drop, and at the other is a wall of rock. Unpredictable weather conditions make flying into this airport even more challenging. There have been several serious accidents at Lukla, including a 2008 crash that killed 18 people and a May 2017 accident where two people died.