Gibraltar Airport – The World’s Only Airport Runway that Intersects a Road
If you have ever dreamed of driving your car down a runway, then here’s your chance! Gibraltar International Airport is world-famous for its strange and unique runway arrangement. Tourists from all over the globe would love to get the opportunity to land on this interesting runway. Here are some fascinating facts about this airport that are like no other airport.
Gibraltar Airport Is the Only Airport in the World Whose Runway Intersects a Public Road
Gibraltar Airport, also known as “North Front Airport,” is located in the British territory of Gibraltar, on the southern coast of Spain. It is the most unique airport because a busy road bisects this airport’s runway! It can be quite surprising for first-time visitors, but locals are used to it, and it’s not as dangerous as it looks. The runway is only open to traffic when no planes are landing or taking off.
Cars driving on Winston Churchill Avenue must stop multiple times a day to allow planes to either leave for London, Birmingham, or Manchester or to arrive from those locations. To prevent nasty collisions between planes and vehicles, the authorities close the traffic for around 10 minutes each time a plane arrives or departs from the airport. During busy traffic, this could be quite a scene, but those on the plane do not experience anything unusual.
The Airport Runway Is the Only Way to Cross From East to West
Apart from the road crossing the runway, here is another interesting part! The airport runway in Gibraltar is the only way to cross the full length of the country from East to West. The highway connecting the southern inland towards the border of Spain must cross the runway.
There are more restrictions in place on a runway than on a regular road. This is to keep people who are crossing the runway safe, as well as airplanes that might cross the road. Airport authorities perform a thorough inspection before each takeoff or landing to make sure the runway is free from any Foreign Object Debris (FOD).
Gibraltar Airport Is Considered One of the Scariest Airport Landings in the World
As per Forbes, the runway has the reputation of being one of the most terrifying runways in the world. At 5,500 feet, it is a little more challenging to land on than other normal runways. Furthermore, the runway abruptly ends at the sea on both sides, so pilots must hit the brakes immediately after landing. This could be scary, but as long as passengers have fastened their seatbelts, it should be perfectly safe and normal.
It’s not just the location that makes the airport an extreme challenge, but the heavy crosswinds as well. The unusual location of the rock and the wind gusting from the Bay of Algeciras make it a difficult place to land for pilots throughout the year.
Why Did Gibraltar Airport Get a Strange Runway Arrangement?
Gibraltar airport was built in 1939 during World War II as an emergency airfield for the Royal Navy. Later, it became a civilian airport, with the first civilian flight by Monarch Airlines connecting Gibraltar and Manchester in the UK. Furthermore, the four-lane Winston Churchill Boulevard Road is the only road that moves in and out of Spain. The airport made use of minimal space to construct its own runway. Since there was no alternative option, the runway had to intersect this road at the surface level. This led Gibraltar Airport to end up with this bizarre arrangement.
Also, the runway was extended by reclaiming some land from the Bay of Gibraltar. This allowed larger aircraft to land at Gibraltar. Currently, EasyJet is now the largest operator at the airport, followed by British Airlines, Easter Airways, and Wizz Air UK. According to the statistics, the airport handled nearly 500,000 passengers in 2019, but this dropped to 186,000 in 2020 due to extreme travel restrictions.
It Took Almost 14 Years to Build Gibraltar Airport’s Tunnel
Airport authorities have been facing difficulties by the increasing amount of road traffic, and they finally decided to construct a dual-lane tunnel and a new four-lane diversion road to accommodate it. The tunnel, which is 350 meters long and stretches to a 1.24 km dual-lane road on either side of the runway, has been under construction for 14 years and is finally nearing completion. The government has confirmed that the tunnel will be completed by the end of 2021 or early 2022.
A Few of the Incidents that Took Place on the Gibraltar Runway
On 8 February 2017, an incident occurred at the Gibraltar International Airport involving a Royal Gibraltar Police vehicle and an Airbus A400M Atlas plane. The RGP vehicle drove onto the runway in an attempt to stop the plane from taking off, and a stand-off ensued between the RGP and MOD.
This caused delays of two hours for anyone who needed to cross the runway via the road crossing. The cause of the incident was that there was a serving member of the military on board the RAF aircraft who was wanted by the RGP for alleged sex offenses. The suspect was eventually removed from the aircraft, and his computer equipment was confiscated. The plane left Gibraltar two hours later after this incident.
Check Out Some of the Other Unique Airports in the World
1 Barra Airport is the World’s only Beach Airport!
Barra Airport in Scotland is one of the world’s most unique airports. Located on the Hebridean Island of Barra, the airport uses a tidal beach as a runway! The airport is the only one in the world where scheduled flights take off and land on a beach – provided the airport’s three runways are not being submerged at high tide.
2 Don Mueang International Airport has a Golf Course
If you are a golfer and find yourself stuck at Don Mueang Airport, Thailand, for five hours, why not take advantage of the Kantarat Golf Course? It is the world’s only golf course that is located in between the runways of the airport. The golfers have to obey the red lights when planes are landing!
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