Atlas Obscura

Try Not to Drive off the World’s Shortest Landing Strip

It’s the landing, not the flying you have to worry about.

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This minuscule airport on a Dutch Caribbean island boasts a strange claim to fame: the world’s shortest commercial landing strip—and some say one of the most dangerous.

Located on the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba, the landing strip at the Junacho E. Yrausquin airport stretches for a mere 400 meters or 1,312 feet—making it just a bit longer than a typical aircraft carrier—before steep cliffs on either end threaten to plunge an unsuspecting pilot into the water. That’s also assuming the aircraft doesn’t run into the high hills flanking one side.

The landing strip is closed to jets, so to experience it you’ll have to hop aboard a smaller aircraft like the BN-2 Islander or the Twin Otter. The only airline that flies regularly scheduled trips is Winair; it’s a short 12-minute flight from the island of St. Maarten or a 90-minute boat ride.

Named after former Aruban minister Juancho Irausquin (a typo in whose name was immortalized on official documents, maps, and the airport’s name), the airport began operating in September 1963. Despite the fact that there hasn’t been a fatal accident here, many aviators consider it one of the world’s most dangerous airports.

Submitted by Atlas Obscura contributor daviddoochin.

If you liked this, you’ll probably enjoy Atlas Obscura’s new book, which collects more than 700 of the world’s strangest and most amazing places: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders.

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