The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports


From the Hebrides to the Himalayas, we reveal the strangest and scariest airports in the world.


Denver International




Denver International Airport has found itself under intense scrutiny from conspiracy theorists since it opened in 1995.



Philip Schneider, a structural engineer turned whistle-blower who died in mysterious circumstances in 1996, claimed that beneath the airport lies a vast underground facility, which then prompted suggestions that the airport is actually hiding a secret military base or even a concentration camp.



And why, ask conspiracy theorists, do the runways form the shape of a swastika?




The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports


Even the artwork on display has fallen under the spotlight. Four bizarre murals of rather disturbing and apocalyptic scenes can be found inside the main terminal, which conspiracy theorists speculate depicts the true agenda of the “New World Order”.



Meanwhile, a stone plaque above the terminal’s entrance features a square and compass (a traditional Masonic symbol) and a dedication to the “New World Airport Commission” (no such organisation exists).



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports





Appropriately, Courchevel Airport’s runway actually resembles a ski slope. The 1,700-ft stretch of tarmac is on the short side, but the 18.5 per cent gradient will quickly slow down arriving aircraft. Pilots must obtain a special permit to land here.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports

Princess Juliana International

Saint Maarten



A planespotter’s dream: aircraft land at Princess Juliana International Airport – the third busiest in the Eastern Caribbean – just metres above the heads of sunbathers below. The runway actually underwent an extension a few years ago, making arrivals a little less daunting.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports

Don Muang International




At first glance, this Bangkok airport doesn’t look particularly strange, but sandwiched between the two runways is in fact an 18-hole golf course.



As far as attractive settings go, it doesn’t quite rival St Andrews or Pebble Beach – while security considerations mean it is no longer open to the public.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports




A lack of flat space on the tiny territory of Gibraltar means the peninsula’s only runway is bisected by its busiest road, with a pair of flimsy-looking barriers the only thing preventing a nasty collision between a 747 and a Ford Orion.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports

King Fahd International

Saudi Arabia



Covering about 780 square kilometres of Saudi Arabian desert, King Fahd International is the world’s largest airport – 160 square kilometres larger than the whole of neighbouring Bahrain. The airport’s mosque (pictured) accommodates 2,000 worshippers, and there is a separate terminal for the Saudi Royal Family.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports

Juancho E. Yrausquin

Netherlands Antilles



This runway is certainly not for nervous fliers. At 1,300-ft long, it’s only fit for small aircraft and is considered by pilots to be one of the most challenging to land upon. It is flanked by high hills on one side and sheer drops on the other three.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports

Kansai International




To cope with a lack of space, engineers constructed this island airport three miles off the coast of Osaka. Work took some seven years, and the structure is so large it can be seen from space. Was it $20 billion well spent? Perhaps not, as global warming could see the entire thing submerged within decades.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports




Can’t wait to get off the plane and on to the beach? Head for the Hebridean island of Barra where the Scottish sands have been used as a makeshift runway since the Thirties. The airport handles 1,000 flights each year, but only when the tide is out.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports




Surrounded by 5,000m Himalayan mountains, Paro Airport demands extraordinary skill from pilots. The rarefied air at 2,235m only compounds matters. Picture: CORBIS


The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports

Tenzing-Hillary, Nepal



Another hellish destination for those of a nervous disposition, Tenzing-Hillary Airport – in eastern Nepal – features an enormous mountain at one end, and a sheer drop at the other. The runway is just 1,729-ft long, and at 2,860 metres above sea level, there are few airports found at a higher altitude.



The world's strangest, weirdest and scariest airports




The island’s original runway was just 5,000-ft long, making it difficult for commercial aircraft to tackle. An ingenious solution was found, however, in the form of a 3,000-ft extension – a massive girder bridge. Picture: CORBIS



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