The History Channel has ranked the world’s ten most extreme airports, which is also available on a 100 minute long DVD.
The airports on the list are included because of their extreme locations at high altitudes, difficult approaches, or short runways, all of which make landings challenging, and some would say even dangerous.
In tenth place on the list is San Diego International Airport (SAN), formerly known as Lindbergh Field, the busiest single runway facility in the United States. The FAA flight controllers at the airport have handled as many as 55 takeoffs and landings an hour, and up to 550 flights a day. It is located within two miles of the downtown city center.
There has only been one major accident at SAN, which involved a midair collision between Pacific Southwest Airlines flight 182, a Boeing 727-200, and a private Cessna 172 on September 25, 1978. It resulted in a death toll of 144, making it the deadliest aircraft disaster in California history. It was also the first Pacific Southwest Airlines accident involving fatalities.
As a result of that accident, the FAA changed airport approach patterns across the United States to better separate private light aircraft and commercial aviation.
Many experts believe that San Diego International Airport should not be included on the listing of extreme airports, while others in the community disagree, and feel that it has outgrown its usefulness. In 2006, San Diego taxpayers voted against building a new airport away from the city center, about 35 miles northeast of the present location, either sharing the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (NKX), or separate from but near that facility.
The complete list of the world’s ten most extreme airports, according to the History Channel, follows:
01 – Tenzing-Hillary Airport (LUA), aka Lukla Airport, Lukla, Nepal
02 – Toncontín International Airport (TGU), Tegucigalpa, Honduras
03 – Gibraltar Airport (GIB) aka North Front Airport, Gibraltar
04 – Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
05 – Gustaf III Airport (SBH), aka St. Jean Airport, Saint Jean, Saint Barthélemy (Saint Barts)
06 – Kai Tak Airport (HKG), Hong Kong
07 – Courchevel Airport (CVF), Courchevel, France
08 – Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), aka Vail/Eagle Airport, Gypsum, Colorado
09 – Madeira Airport (FNC), Funchal, Madeira, Portuguese archipelago
10 – San Diego International Airport (SAN) – aka Lindbergh Field, San Diego, CA
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