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America’s Most Hair-Raising Airport Landings

High concentration up front earns applause in back when the gear touches down on these 10 runways.
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Photographer: Blaine Harrington III/Getty Iamges

For a commercial airline pilot, some landings are a relative breeze—think airports with long, clear runways on flat land at sea level, with benign weather and modest traffic.

We’re here to discuss the other kind.

The final approach and landing represent the most challenging aspects of a pilot’s workload and come with the most accidents. Consider airfields where congestion, geography, winds, altitude, and other factors can make the approach a bear. These airports can also test a pilot’s judgment and willingness to abort a landing and go around.

Honeywell Aerospace, a major aircraft avionics producer that’s part of Honeywell International Inc., compiled some of the most challenging U.S. venues. The list isn’t ranked by difficulty, but Aspen/Pitkin County is widely known to pose a massive workload for aviators and got a special nod from more than a dozen Honeywell pilots who were polled. Among others where the approach and landing can regularly be a hassle: Juneau, New York’s LaGuardia, Washington’s Reagan National, and San Diego airport.