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.
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