8 of the world’s weirdest airports (to watch your Slingbox in)

7523766532_9392a9e9e6_oOne of the best things about Slingbox is how it lets you watch 100 percent of your sports or TV shows away from home — whether you’re at a friend’s house across town, on a business trip across the country or on vacation on another continent. If you travel a lot for work, the airports in one city or another probably start to all blend together. Visit any one of these, though, and that’s sure to not be the case.

Kansai International Airport – Osaka, Japan

Japan is a notoriously crowded nation, where space is at such a premium that people are employed to “pack” humans into stuffed subway cars. When it came time to build a new airport in Osaka (to relieve crowding from Osaka International Airport), the city sidestepped the land shortage issue in a novel way: They built an artificial island in Osaka Bay just to hold it.

Kansai_closeup

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport – Savannah, Georgia, United States

Savannah has been called the most haunted city in the U.S. I can’t confirm the presence of ghosts at its airport, but one runway in particular seems to be asking for some paranormal activity.

When the airport was originally built, two 19th century graves of a couple whose headstones said simply “at rest” and “gone home to rest” lay smack dab in the middle of the plan. Rather than disturb the burial sites, the tarmac was simply built right around them. Now the two are “at rest” with 1500-ton aircraft rumbling over them daily.

Gibraltar International Airport – Gibraltar

You know when traffic suddenly comes to standstill due to a train passing by on tracks intersecting the road? A commuter train going at 60 mph is one thing. What if you were idling in front a passenger jet zooming down a runway at takeoff speed of 175 mph or more?

Runway_section_of_Winston_Churchill_Avenue

In the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, that’s exactly what happens every day. Winston Churchill Avenue, a main thoroughfare and the only road connecting Gibraltar to Spain, is closed every time a plane takes off from Gibraltar International’s main runway.

Denver International Airport – Denver, Colorado, United States

When the Colorado capital opened its huge new airport in 1995, it’s unlikely that anyone expected it would become a conspiracy theory hotbed rivaling the JFK assassination or Area 51. But thanks to some creepy murals and statues, masonic references, its remote location and rumors of bunkers buried underneath, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Virtually all of the “evidence” has been debunked — for instance, the Orwellian-sounding “New World Airport Commission” listed on the airport’s capstone was just a group of local businesspeople — but it hasn’t stopped it from being a favorite of conspiracy buffs.

Don Mueang International Airport – Bangkok, Thailand

Or if disturbed graves aren’t your thing, you can always check out the mid-runway offerings at the smaller of Bangkok’s two international airports. Here you’ll find not ghosts, but golf — an 18-hole course is sandwiched right between the two main runways without so much as a fence to separate them. Try not to slice a drive into a plane’s windshield if you can.

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – Saba, Netherlands Antilles

If you land at this tiny Caribbean island’s airport, land quickly. It features the shortest commercial runway in the world, at only 1,299 feet. Overshoot it in either direction, and you’ll fall off a cliff into the Atlantic Ocean.

Saba_airport

Ironic fun fact: The island, which is only 5 square miles in area, also features a mountain that is more than twice as tall as its runway is long. At 2,910 feet tall, Mount Scenery is the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Qamdo Bamda Airport – Bamda, Tibet, China

On the other side of the spectrum is Qamdo Bamda, which features the world’s longest runway at 18,045 feet, or in other words, almost long enough to have hosted the climactic scene in Fast and Furious 6.

Don’t think that length is to allow pilots to take as leisurely a jaunt down the tarmac as possible though — at an elevation of 14,000 feet, the altitude requires higher takeoff speeds and thus the giant runway.

Gander International Airport – Gander, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

It used to be that passenger jets didn’t have the fuel capacity to make it from Western Europe to the East Coast of the United States in one go. So a gleaming international terminal was built in Gander, which lies under the most efficient route from London to New York. World leaders and celebrities from Queen Elizabeth II to Ingrid Bergman have passed through. When the Beatles arrived in New York to play the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, they had touched North American soil at Gander first.

Of course, things are different now, but Gander has stayed much the same. Its lounge is a midcentury time capsule with Eames chairs, a geometric-pattern terrazzo floor and a futuristic 72-foot wide mural. The elegance of space age air travel is still there — but the traffic isn’t.

Header image (Miami International Airport) credit: Junior Henry/Flickr

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