15 Most Dangerous Airports in the US [Update 2024]

Most Dangerous Airports in the US

Flying is safest, they say. The creation of the airplane boosted human civilization’s communication and economy.

Communication is crucial today. Airplanes made travel easier. Plane is the principal mode of international travel. When the airport causes many accidents, flying may not be safe.

US airports number 5080. Some become unsafe due to crowded runways, bad weather, steep bends, etc. Some airports’ construction and design cause severe accidents.

Here are the most dangerous airports in the US.

1. Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, Colorado

Opened in 1946, Aspen-Pitkin County Airport was a privately owned airport. It is one of the most dangerous airports in the US. From the very beginning, the airport has seen many crash landing including the deadly one in 2001 of a Gulfstream charter plane. That crash killed 18 people onboard. The location is dangerous for a plane to make a safe landing. 

The Telegraph ranked it as No. 1 difficult airports in the US. Airfare Watchdog warns that a pilot must be specially certified to land in the snowy Aspen. As it is wedged between two mountains that poses a challenge for the pilots to land and take off in opposite directions. Though the runway and the entire terminal area were redeveloped.

In 2011, the runway was lengthened to 80006 feet; however, because of a single runway accident is bound to happen. 

2. John Wayne Airport, California

Known as the most noise-sensitive airport, John Wayne Airport is set close to residential areas. Because of this reason, a unique takeoff is required. It is explained by David Cenciotti, a freelance journalist and private pilot who blogs at The Aviationist as – “departing planes to perform a steep climb followed by a sudden thrust reduction that can be quite scary for passengers. An engine problem during initial climb could be extremely difficult to manage.”

Sometimes some planes lost control and hit residential areas. Moreover, there were many cases where car accident happens due to various reason. 

3. Chicago Midway International Airport, Illinois

Known for its short runway and bad weather, pilots have difficulty jetting in and out of its midwestern hub. The runway system made of four intersecting runways and taxiways very confusing for the grounding aircraft. 

Also, the runway is very slippery during Winter causes a various accident that killed people. There is more than 30 runway incident till now which makes it on our list of dangerous airports. 

4. Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport, Alaska

In the US, Alaska is known for its snow. However, this snow is a danger for Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport. Also, it is surrounded by water. The pilots must watch out for boulders and other debris which was onto the runway during storms. Unpredictable weather is another serious issue for danger. The runway is always slippery in Winter and sometimes snow-covered the runway way too much that flight has to cancel. 

5. Yeager Airport, West Virginia

Another dangerous airport is Yeager Airport in West Virginia. It has only one operational runway which is very short sitting on top of the mountain. Being in between the two cliffs, if the pilot makes mistake during takeoff there is nowhere to go but down. 

6. San Diego International Airport, California

Because of its downtown location, it is known as a dangerous airport in California as well as in the US. It was opened in 1928. Till now it is known as the busiest single-runway airport in the world. However, because of its proximity to the skyscraper of the Downton area, the pilots have difficulty using the runway.

Also, they have difficulty shifting wind currents before landing. Also, pilots have a lot to watch out for as it is surrounded by Mexican airspace in the south and north and east mountains. These factors force pilots to take nose-to-nose landings and takeoffs. It causes more than fifteen accidents due to these reasons. 

7. LaGuardia Airport, New York

Established in 1939, LaGuardia Airport is also a dangerous airport in the US. It busy and is a challenging airport for the pilots as it holds mostly small regional gets. The planes are very busy and have a complicated landing pattern and complicated takeoff in those short and crisscrossing runways. 

There are many more factors that get its name as a dangerous airport. One of the factors is that the airport sits extremely close to towering skyscrapers of Manhattan and the hubs being close to Midtown. The view of the Empire State building is fantastic during takeoff and landings. Another important issue is being the largest airport system; the sky of LaGuardia is always packed with jets. The pilots are forced to take a 180-degree turn around the Citi field along with some low and tight altitude turns. Even in one crash the US Airways flight 1549 landed in Hudson River. 

8. Catalina Airport, California

Catalina Airport is known for its danger because of its bumpy landing. Because of heavy rain, the runway is rough with potholes, asphalt and soft spots. It is nicknamed “Airport in the Sky” because of its high elevation with an altitude of 1602 feet. The runway drops off on both sides and raised the middle causing the pilots on one end to can’t see the other. 

9. Telluride Regional Airport, Colorado

Runway sits on a plateau above the San Miguel River and dips in the middle, it is known as the dangerous airports. The pilot has one shot to avoid an accident, meaning only having one shot at landing in this snowy airport. Touch-and-go landings are prohibited in this highest commercial airport.

10. Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC

Two overlapping no-fly zones make Reagan National Airport a dangerous airport. The pilots have to watch out for not only CIA Headquarters and Pentagon but also for the White House. When taking off pilots have to make swift decision to ascend quickly and sharp turn left to avoid flying over the White House. These rules were applied after the attack of September 11.   

11. Nantucket Memorial Airport, Massachusetts

Nantucket Memorial Airport is known for its foggy conditions and low ceilings that cause visibility reduces to the point it is difficult to navigate. During world war two the air force took control of this airport however, they had to deal with this fog. 

12. Hollywood Burbank Airport, California

Hollywood Burbank Airport, legally and formerly marketed as Bob Hope Airport. The airport was initially built for smaller aircraft and now it has one of the smallest commercially used runways in the United States. The result is a challenging landing for even the most experienced pilots. The lack of length causes the runway of this hub dangerously short. 

13. Los Angeles International Airport, California

Plenty of heavy congestion and close-set of runways above them the strong wind is the very reason for its ti be called the dangerous airport. Los Angeles is always sunny but winds turbine cause complicated landings, especially crosswind landings in the gutsy wind of 50 mph. It is one of the busiest origin and destination airport.

14. Eagle County Regional Airport, Colorado

Poor weather, high approach, and high surrounding terrain make this airport get the name as one of the worlds most extreme airports. Because of mountains, westward departures have high clearance altitudes which are the most risk factors for this airport.

15. Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Nevada

Named as one of the trickiest airports to fly in and out, Reno-Tahoe International Airport can be hazardous for even experienced pilots. The runway elevation is more than 4000 feet with a combination of reduction in air density because high temperatures can cause danger during summer.

David Cenciotti, a freelance journalist and private pilot who blogs at The Aviationist explain the situation – “Reduction in air density affects aircraft performance: lower engine thrust, wing’s lift, and propeller’s efficiency. A plane taking off from Reno (as well as from any other high and hot airport) will require a longer takeoff roll as a result of reduced power production and slower acceleration.”

Safety is always an important issue no matter where we go. The airports are no different. Hope these issue would be fixed and the accident rate would go down gradually.

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