Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – One of the most dangerous airports in the world

Saba is part of the Caribbean Islands, about 200 miles east and a little south of Puerto Rico. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is the only airport on the Island of Saba, one of the Netherland Antilles in the Caribbean.  It is known as the airport with the shortest commercially served runway (400m) in the world.  It ends on high cliffs on both ends. Nearby islands include Saint Martins, Saint Kitts, Saint Eustatius, and a little farther afield, St Johns and the US and British Virgin Islands. In 1632, a group of British sailors shipwrecked on the island and when they were rescued, they reported it to be uninhabited (though it may have had some Arawak Indian settlements previously). A few years later, Saba was claimed for the French. However, the Dutch governor of nearby Saint Eustatius decided to get in on the action, and sent several families of colonists over to Saba. In 1664, the English decided they wanted possession of the island, and forcibly removed the Dutch colonists when they refused to swear allegiance to England. Over the next hundred and fifty years or so, the island changed hands between the English, Dutch and French repeatedly, and also served as an occasional haven for pirates due to its forbidding coastline. Finally, in 1816, Saba became a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and has remained under Dutch control since.The runway at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is only 400m in length and reputed to be the shortest commercial air strip in the world! Depending on wind conditions it is possible to land on both ends of the runway. On a wind still day (which is less likely) you can expect a 30 landing. You’ll get the real sense of landing on an aircraft carrier as you’ll see the waters of the Cove Bay to the left and the Caribbean sea to the right of the runway… Under normal conditions you’ll be landing 120, now this is something else! The approach is practically at a cliff, the rugged terrain of Saba blocks out the entire sky as you peer over the shoulders of your pilots. Then it’s a sharp bank left and a gentle touchdown. Landing on Saba is an art form and the Pilots of Winair & Windward Express are maestros, so enjoy it, remembering it will not be a problem. Flights generally take about 12 to 15 minutes to reach St Maarten, from where connecting flights to the US mainland can be found. Apart from the helicopter journeys to and from the island, connections are made via prop-aircraft rather than jet-engine carriers. This is because the runway is dangerously short, measuring at less than 400 meters.The terminal building is only basic and small. It was built in 1963 and contains a limited number of facilities. Tourists can use a public phone booth and there is one information counter, which is also used as a check-in desk. There are no shopping and food services in the terminal, but several offices for Winair. Getting from the airport to the villages of Saba is best done by taxi. Car rental is available on the island, but there are no car rental services directly at the airport. There is parking available at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport.



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