Watch these heart-stopping landings in St. Barts

If you're a nervous passenger, probably best not to catch a flight to Gustaf III Airport, as it's got one of the shortest and narrowest runways in the world.

by | Published on 24th Apr 2023

There’s always a group of passengers who clap when a plane lands at an airport.

Seems crazy to appreciate a quick, painless landing, but sometimes the round of applause is well-deserved.

Especially if you’ve just landed at Gustaf III Airport in St. Barts.

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The airport on the Caribbean island happens to be one of the most dangerous in the world.

The approach into Gustaf III Airport is sketchy to say the least, with pilots having to fly frighteningly close to traffic.

Once they’ve passed over a road, they then have to crest a hill, fly downward toward the runway, before leveling out to land.

If that’s not bad enough, the airport has one of the shortest and narrowest runways in the world.

It measures just 2,100 feet long and 60 feet wide, so there’s little room for error.

Understandably, only small aircraft with up to 19 passengers can take off and land at Gustaf III Airport.

It’s not unheard of for planes to clip vehicles and even people when coming in to land at the airport, they get that close.

The video below testifies just how close they get.

In fact, an American photographer was once clipped in the back of the head by a plane’s landing gear as it came into land.

Ed Gudenas was standing at the top of the hill taking photos of planes landing.

With his camera aiming towards the runway and his back to the incoming 19-seater DHC-6 Twin Otter, the plane’s left tire clipped the back of Gudenas’ head, knocking him forward.

Fortunately, he only needed a few stitches after tumbling down the hill, and was soon back at his hotel bar telling the tale.

Not every pilot can fly in and out of Gustaf III Airport, though.

They need to be specially trained in short field takeoff and landings, which is made even harder at this airport as it sits between three sides of terrain.

To make matters worse, the runway has a two-degree downward slope, so if pilots fail to stop in time, they end up taking a dip in the Bay of St. Jean.

Passengers may grip their armrests until they’re white-knuckled, but landing at Gustaf III Airport is worth it for the gorgeous scenery and spectacular weather on arrival.



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Adam Gray is an experienced motoring journalist and content creator based in the United Kingdom. Using his media accreditation with motor manufacturers’ press offices, Adam test drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches, producing written reviews and news pieces for supercarblondie.com. Before joining the Supercar Blondie team, Adam was Motoring Editor for Portfolio North magazine, North East Motoring Editor at Reach plc, and provided motoring content on a freelance basis to several lifestyle and business publications in the North of England. When he’s not behind the wheel of the latest car, Adam can be found at his local rink playing ice hockey or supporting his beloved Middlesbrough FC.

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