Pilots don’t have an easy job. It takes a lot of skill to safely land a plane even on a flat, very long surface with no winds, trees, hills or other planes around to obstruct the view. The following list is based on research done by Honeywell Aerospace, the avionics unit of the manufacturing conglomerate.
Special training is required to land here. Pilots hate flying into this airport because they have to deal with a steep approach path and must use a separate navigation system. Pilots land in one direction and have to take off from the opposite way using a single runway because of the surrounding, mountainous terrain.
The challenge here is that pilots have to navigate rapidly rising terrain on both ends of the 8,500-foot runway and be aware of its high departure climb gradient performance requirements. As part of a new expansion project, the airport has installed a new state-of-the-art lighting system. Some planes need a longer runway or they need to take on less fuel in order to get off the ground and later refuel.
The problem is the challenging location of the airport. It is squeezed between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Pilots must navigate numerous obstructions flying into this airport, which is very inconvenient. Another problem is the lack of a control tower. Imagine landing anywhere like that...
The gorgeous beautiful mountains in the national park, which is among the most visited in the country, make Yellowstone a prime destination. However, the same mountainous terrain surrounds the airport and is making landing challenging for pilots. There’s no control tower. Pilots have no approach control and must pursue non-precision approaches only.
Landing here is a treat only for passengers because they get to see national monuments like the White House and the Pentagon during landing from a unique perspective. But pilots are not having as much fun at all because they have to dodge several no-fly zones over the capital. They also have to navigate a “River Visual” approach requiring a 30- to 40-degree turn close to the Potomac River to line up with the runway.
Visitors admire the city for its gorgeous scenery but pilots are not impressed. The mountainous terrain and surrounding valleys have always been a problem here. They have made landing challenging for both commercial and business aviation pilots over the years.
LaGuardia often makes rankings about the worst airports in the world, hated by passengers as well because chaos seems to reign there all the time. Scheduled flights are limited to 1,500 miles, with few exceptions; LaGuardia’s popular urban location creates a difficult and busy approach for pilots navigating multiple runways and jets landing.
It’s not shocking that a popular national park has with its own airport and that it poses challenges for pilots. It’s a park, not a city; you can’t pour concrete to flatten the terrain. Mammoth Yosemite Airport is located on the side of a mountain in a box canyon creating a difficult approach, especially in mountainous weather conditions.
No one likes to fly into one of the busiest airports in the country. But this is not why pilots hate the airport in San Diego. The steep approach path that brings pilots over the city and strong tailwinds in the area are the reason. The winds create an even bigger landing challenge.
Telluride is the highest commercial airport in the U.S. 9,070 feet. As is the case with several airports on the list, what bothers pilots is the mountainous terrain. It creates an especially difficult approach for pilots trying to land. The 1,000-foot cliffs on both ends of the runway don’t help. Also, in addition to all that, there is strong turbulence during winter because of the powerful winds.