The 18 strangest airports in the world

Airports are unusual places. Every city of decent size has one, but they are rarely all that interesting. Each day, thousands of people move through these places, on their way too and from all manner of destinations, spending time browsing crappy little bookstores and consuming lousy food that would cost half as much elsewhere.

But sometimes, airports can be unusual for different reasons. Perhaps they’re located in odd places, or maybe they have some unusual feature or monument that makes them stand out. Popular Mechanics has compiled a list of the 18 strangest airports in the world, each of which meet those criteria and more.

The list includes airports large and small from all over the world and in a wide variety of settings. Some of the very unique airports that make the cut include Kansai International in Osaka Japan, which is famous for having been built on a man-made island and Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which sits just five miles from the very heart of that large and busy city. Other unusual places to take off and land include a runway made of ice in Antarctica and several that have you actually landing on a beach, proving that if we are determined to reach a destination, we’ll find a way to get there.

With 18 airports on the list, Popular Mechanics has done a fine job of highlighting some of the most unusual airports in the world. But did they miss any? What is the most unusual airport that you’ve ever been? As for myself, I’m looking forward to experiencing the airport in Lukla, Nepal in April. That airport is famous for it’s location, high in the Himalaya, with the landing strip running up the side of a mountain. Arriving and departing there is said to be scary and exhilarating all at the same time.
Be sure to check out the gallery below for some of the coolest airports in the world…


…or watch the videos that demonstrate why these airports are soooo strange.

Courchevel International Airport

Princess Juliana International Airport
Simpson Bay,
Saint Maarten

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport
Saba, Netherlands Antilles

Top 7 Outdoor Gear Items for 2009

Last weekend was the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market was held in Salt Lake City. The biannual convention is where all of the major players int he lucrative gear industry gather to show off their latest and greatest products, many of which won’t make their way onto store shelves for months. Popular Mechanics was on hand to check out all the new gear and offer us a preview of the top 7 new products for 2009.

There are a number of interesting items in their top 7, including a new jacket from Mountain Hardwear that comes with a built in, rechargable, battery pack that not only heats the jacket itself, but can also be used to recharge your gadgets, such as your iPod or GPS device. The Ardica Jacket has three distinct settings and is expected to cost roughly $150 more than their non-heated counter parts. A bit steep in price, but considering the quality of Mountan Hardwear gear, I suspect it’s probably worth it.

Another highlight from the show was an intteresting new Expedition watch from Timex. The watch has an oversized face that allows it to display a ton of information, and since it’s packed with an altimeter, barometer, theremomter, and compass, all the data is literally right at your fingertips. Oh, and did I mention it also tells time? The watch is due out in a few months and is expected to cost about $200.

The other items in the top 7 are all of varying degrees of interest to the outdoor enthusaists who can’t resist slick new gear. Most of the stuff will be out in the next few months, so start saving your pennies now.