Flight was a great addition to the way people moved around the world. However, suddenly we needed somewhere to land the darn aeroplanes. As planes became bigger and air travel grew commercially, airports needed a lot more space, and that wasn't always possible. Sometimes cities were so high that the logistics of taking off and landing became trickier. Sometimes the conditions facilitated a need to do things differently.
Well, some airports managed to adapt to what was required, and here are five of them:
1) Gibraltar Airport
As Gibraltar is nestled on a tiny piece of land, squashed between Spain and the sea, space is at a premium. It is because of this that the main road through Gibraltar, Winston Churchill Avenue, has to cross the runway. Yep, when planes land, the traffic along Gibraltar's main road comes to a complete standstill.
Image from xcitefun.net
2) The Ice Runway - Antarctica
Naturally, the weather conditions make landing an aircraft in Antarctica somewhat tricky, and only specific aircraft can do it. Planes which are too heavy can break the ice, or become submerged in snow.
Image from airport-technology.com
3) Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan)
Due to the sky-high population density of many Japanese cities, space is at a serious premium. In Osaka, this necessitated the creation of an airport outside the city... in the sea. About 5km offshore sits a manmade island containing Kensai International Airport, and since 1994, full size commercial aircraft have been able to land there safely. However, global warming could pose a serious threat to this airport's future.
Image from pref.osaka.jp
4) Qamdo Bangda Airport (Tibet)
What makes Qamdo Bangda Airport unique is its altitude. At over 4 200m above sea level, the thin air makes it more difficult to stop an aircraft landing. An expert named Schreckengast says, "At sea level, where your approach speed is 150mph (about 240kph), it may take 5 000ft (about 1500m) of runway to stop. At 14 000 feet your approach speed is still 150mph, but maybe it takes 10 000ft (3 000m) to stop." This is why the runway here is over 5.5km.
5) Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Maarten
This is a famous runway as the approach to it goes right over a well-frequented beach before landing - in fact, damn close to it! Experts reckon that cars driving along the road between the beach and the apron are more at risk than the sunbathers, should an accident ever happen.