A majestic mountain, a pristine ocean and a breathtaking beach from the air are some of the amenities that crowned Ireland's Donegal Airport as the most popular place to set a plane down. Thousands of voters selected the contrast in Donegal's scenery as the main reason they picked the airport in PrivateFly's annual Top 10 Most Scenic Airport Landings poll. The result is a huge stet up for the landing site, also dubbed the Wild Atlantic Way. In 2016, Donegal placed seventh.
"You fly in low over the tiny airport building with the conical mass of quartitze that is Errigal mountain on your right and sweep out over an emerald sea with the perma-white froth of the Wild Atlantic Way lashing the many tiny rocky islands in a turquoise sea," raved one respondent. "Then the pilot completes his turn and dashes back towards the crescent of golden sand that is Carrickfin beach."
Besides a magnificent scenic backdrop, Donegal also has 4,921 feet of runway that can accommodate regional carriers as well as small private prop and jet planes.
The unique attributes cited by voters regarding Scotland's Barra Airport were enough to put the site in second spot. Barra stands out because for openers, it has no runway. It's the only location where scheduled and chartered flights land on the beach. But the activity is hardly around-the-clock, since the sandy runway is under water during high tide.
France's Nice Côte d’Azur Airport took third place, much of it due to the visual appeal of the Mediterranean Sea combined with the alpine splendor of the Alps. Operating since 1944 as part of the Second World War effort, the airport quickly became a popular spot for tourists to reach the French Riviera. Increased traffic resulted in a second runway being added in 1978.
Respectively rounding out the top five were New Zealand's Queenstown Airport, a landing spot surrounded by snow-capped mountains; and the Netherlands Antilles' Saba Airport, which as a destination with the world's shortest commercial airstrip, has the added distinction of being built on a volcano.
The U.S. managed to garner some profile with two entries in the top 10, both of them located in Florida. Orlando Melbourne International Airport landed in sixth, thanks to the visual appeal of the local beaches as well as the Kennedy Space Center. In 10th was Miami Airport, which had most respondents raving about catching the landscape of the Everglades below eventually morphing into the urban contours of the city.
Completing the list was Canada's Billy Bishop Airport in seventh, London City Airport in eighth and the Dutch Antilles' St. Maarten Airport in ninth place.