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4 Of The World's Strangest Airport Runways


According to the World Factbook, as of 2007 there were 49'024 airports in the world.  If you also take into account that quite a few of these are home to more than 1 landing strip, the fact that some offbeat runways exist is unsurprising.  Here are just 4 of our favourites.

Atlanta Airport's Fifth Runway



The groundbreaking fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was opened in May 2006 after 5 years of construction, at a cost of $1.28 billion.  What's unique about the runway is that it bridges an incredible 10 lanes of traffic on I-285, a feat which makes it the largest runway bridging structure ever built.  Before construction was started, a conveyor belt system which measured 5 miles was put in place just to import the landfill needed to start the runway and the finished bridge structure can withstand the weight of 1.3million pounds.

Gibraltar Airport's Runway



Gibraltar Airport's single runway is one of very few in the world (and certainly the largest example) to intersect a public road.  That's correct: a public road.  Operating similarly to a train crossing, traffic travelling along Winston Churchill Avenue in Gibraltar is brought to a halt each time a plane either lands or takes-off, causing the spectacle seen in the photos above.

Kobe Airport



Many runways of the world are situated near water, some excrutiatingly close, but very few are located on small islands off the mainland which have been built specifically to accommodate them.  The powers-that-be in Japan have decided to do just that and the country is now home to a few of these runways, each connected to the mainland by bridges.  The photo above is of the runway at Kobe Airport which opened in 2006.

Funchal Airport's Extended Runway



When engineers were looking for a viable way to extend Funchal Airport's dangerously brief runway, they cleverly opted to 'rest' the enormous structure on 180 pillars, each measuring 230ft, rather than using landfill to support the strip.  The result is a unique, safe runway which now also houses a car park underneath its extension.  The newly adapted runway also won the IABSE's Outstanding Structure Award in 2004.