The airport with the worlds shortest runway scarily balanced on a cliff edge

Most people know just how big airport runways are.

Aeroplanes weave and wind across the tarmac on their way to take off, a process known as taxiing.

Yet, in some places around the world, such manoeuvres are simply impossible.

Some airports in far-flung corners of the world are so small that only the hardiest of pilots can successfully land on them.

This is true of Saba, a tiny island situated in the vast Caribbean Sea, which holds the world record for the shortest runway.

READ MORE: The tiny lost UK airport that was closer to France than London

There are other contenders for the title, like the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal, and Gustaf III Airport on the island of St Barts.

Yet, these are reasonably large when compared to Juancho E Yrausquin Airport in Saba, whose runway measures a meagre 1,312 feet (400 metres).

More surprisingly, Saba’s airport is available for commercial use, meaning packed passenger flights are free to land on it.

There are likely few runways to match Juancho E Yrausquin’s beauty, either. It has three cliff edges over the sea, and a fourth enclosed only by high hills.

When these obstacles are taken into consideration, the runway technically measures a lot shorter, around 1,263 feet (385 metres).

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The airport is the brainchild of Dutch national Remy de Haenen, who had made several landings in a seaplane off Fort Bay harbour on the island in 1946.

Surveying the land, he noted that the flat point, Juancho E Yrausquin Airport’s current site, was the ideal location for an airport.

Clearing the land in a matter of weeks, Mr de Haenen made a successful attempt to land in front of an audience.

It should, in theory, have paved the way for a brand-new airstrip, but nothing came of it.

Saba is the smallest social municipality of the Netherlands having been incorporated into the country in 2010, before that being part of the Netherlands Antilles.

The lack of an airport became a big issue for the parliament of the Netherlands Antilles in the late 1950s, and by 1963, after much public debate and posturing, Juancho E Yrausquin Airport had been funded, built, and deemed operational.

Aircraft can land at the tiny airstrip from either direction, depending on the wind direction and speed.

Some pilots who have landed there have likened the task to “landing “a bird on a postage stamp”, in other words, a near impossibility.

A single access or exit allows aircraft just enough room to leave the runway briefly, before making a 180-degree turn and starting their return journey.

Despite its short stature, Juancho E Yrausquin’s runway is deemed quite safe, perhaps one of the safest in the world, with no known incidents or accidents recorded there since it opened 60 years ago.

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