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‘Amazing’ footage shows what it’s like to land on the world's shortest runway nerve-wrackingly balanced on the edge of a cliff

‘Amazing’ footage shows what it’s like to land on the world's shortest runway nerve-wrackingly balanced on the edge of a cliff

This looks like a hair-raising challenge for pilots.

The smaller and more niche your destination when you hop on a flight, the tinier the airport that awaits you - that's not exactly rocket science.

Still, there are some airports out there with reputations not just for small terminals or departure gates, but specifically for their tiny runways.

The shortest runway in any commercial airport in the world belongs to the island of Saba in the Caribbean Sea, a tiny place with amazing natural beauty.

Its airport is diminutive, and its runway measures just 1,300 feet (400 metres) from beginning to end.

This makes landing on it and taking off from it a real challenge for pilots, as a brilliant YouTube video from aviation channel Swiss001 showed in late 2022.

The video opens with the YouTuber filming from inside a small plane as he makes his own landing on the island, and you can see just how suddenly the pilots have to brake once their wheels are down.

Then, over the course of a couple of days, the video shows a bunch of other planes arriving and leaving in different conditions, including some really difficult windy landings.

There's variety both in the exact model of plane that arrives and in how each pilot tackles the landing, with some managing to stop shorter than others - and with the end of the runway basically a cliff-edge into the sea, that's a good idea.

On one of the later days in the video, things are incredibly windy, so much so that filming is a challenge, but you can still see twin-prop planes seemingly quite easily taking off and landing.

There's no room for a refuelling station in this tiny airport, which means that planes rarely stay for too long. Instead, they drop off passengers and pick up new ones before swiftly heading off.

The runway also works in both directions to account for wind direction and conditions, making it fairly adaptable.

Colin Baker / Getty
Colin Baker / Getty

Amazingly, despite looking like it must surely be one of the most challenging landings a pilot could ask for, the airport is actually a remarkably safe one. There have reportedly been no incidents or crashes or any sort in the 60 years it's been operational, which is a great record.

There's also obviously a clear limit on the size of planes that could possibly make this approach, with only small aircraft being able to manage the journey. And Saba's only a small island, so the volume of flights coming in is also pretty low.

There are a few dozen different takeoffs and landings to enjoy in the video, so if you like seeing this sort of hair-raising situation, be sure to check it out.

Featured Image Credit: Patrick van Katwijk / Contributor / Getty / Swiss001/YouTube