Scary Landings At National Airport

Photo courtesy of
‘Gravelly Point – Competing Transportation – 12-29-08′
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

Travel + Leisure Magazine recently named the runway at Regan National Airport the third scariest in the world. Calling our airspace “fraught with peril” and taking-off “a white-knuckle event”, Travel + Leisure apparently shudders at flying into and out of DC. I too have heard people express fright at our airport, I’ve even heard a pilot call the landing at DCA one of the toughest, “makes sure you’re awake” he said.

But the third scariest? I was terrified flying into Charleston, West Virginia in heavy winds on a prop plane earlier this year, and would call that much more scary than the decent into NoVa.  I’ve also had a crazy landing on a dirt runway at the airport in the Bahamas, and my boss tells a story about an airport in the South Pacific that had a wrecked plane wing as the rain shelter, with a cow pasture serving as the runway.

So, what do you think? Is DC really the third scariest runway in the world, or is Travel + Leisure just being a drama queen?

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

10 thoughts on “Scary Landings At National Airport

  1. That seems really extreme to me. I’ve flown in and out of DCA many times and I’ve never been scared during the landing.

  2. The approach into DCA is commonly cited as being one of the most difficult and stressful for pilots for all the reasons T&L lists. I don’t think it’s that scary for passengers, if for no other reason that an experienced airline pilot knows enough to concentrate and do it properly, but that doesn’t mean the pilot isn’t sweatin’ it in the cockpit.

  3. Funny I was at the park yesterday (Sunday) and was watching planes take off and land. It was pretty neat watching them manage the enormous crosswinds!

  4. DCA scary? Nah!!! In comparison of the runways that literally fall off mountains – I will take DCA any day. I agree it can be stressful to land and watch (I see planes daily during my commute pass the Pentagon) but not scary.

  5. I’m more scared of plane landings in San Diego (SAN) than at DCA. IIRC, when I last few into SAN, the plane flew low over some buildings before landing on the runway. That really rather freaked me out.

  6. The St Maarten airport was crazy both to land at as well as watch airplanes land while standing on the beach! It’s such a short runway and there are some huge planes that land there, the planes have to break so hard once they’re on the ground in order to stop before the end of the runway!

  7. Boston is pretty interesting too- it used to be that they let people fish from boats next to the runways, right next to the water- so while you landed, you couldn’t see the runway under you- just water… and boat masts.

    I’m not one to question the pilot, but, ah… we’re clear this thing isn’t a floatplane, right cap’n? ;)

  8. I fly SAN to DCA every 2 or 3 months, and it’s an absolutely fun ride! But no way that it’s scarier than number 5…….