Popular Mechanics has posted a list of The World's 18 Strangest Airports, and I was curious to see if I'd been to any of them. Turns out that we've flown in and out of three on the list, all of them associated with dive trips:
- The Princess Juliana Airport on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten (the Dutch counterpart to St. Martin) was a stopover on our way to Saba (more about that next). I had no idea the airport was "strange," but it made the list because of the approach over a beach and a highway. I do remember sweating our return trip, both literally and figuratively, as we weren't sure that our baggage would make the weight limit. (It did.)
- And speaking of Saba, that tiny island - a part of the Netherlands Antilles - is served by the Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, and there was absolutely no doubt that we were experiencing a "strange" airport! At 1,300 feet in length, the lone runway is scary short, but it's even worse given that both ends lead to sheer drop-offs into the ocean. Nevertheless, our STOL aircraft handled the strip with aplomb (and we got some great video through the open pilot cabin door; I think they liked to show off the approach!).
- Another trip took us to the island of Guanaja, off the coast of Honduras. En route, we landed at the Toncontin International Airport in the capitol city of Tegucigalpa. Apparently, the location and comparatively short runways make this a challenge for jumbo jets, but we weren't flying on one and thus never suspected our lives were in danger.