Telluride Regional Airport from above. Photo Credit: iagoarchangel (Flickr)

Telluride Regional Airport from above. Photo Credit: iagoarchangel (Flickr)

Surrounded by cliffs and located at 9,078 feet of elevation, landing at the Telluride Regional Airport in the heart of Colorado's San Juans isn't for the faint of heart. From the sky, it's clear there's not much margin for error when it comes to landing at this destination.

The video below captures what a landing looks like at Telluride Regional Airport from the pilot's point of view, posted by Youtuber Jim Siverts.

This second video captures more of the approach and shows what conditions can be like on a windy day, posted by Youtuber Barry Caraway.

The Telluride Regional Airport is considered by many to be one of the most dangerous airports in the country. Its high elevation can make getting lift during take-off more difficult, especially for smaller planes. With an infamous cliff-drop at the end of the runway, getting adequate lift is crucial for the survival of those on board an aircraft – or so it would seem.

To help prevent overruns – when a plane is unable to take off prior to reaching the end of the runway – the airport utilizes 'EMAS Safety Bed' technology. This is a special section of track put that the end of a runway that's designed to stop a moving aircraft by adding major resistance to the rolling of the landing gear of an aircraft. As a plane moves onto the safety bed, it collapses into the ground, swallowing the lower portion of a wheel and slowing the roll to a stop. Think about it like a type of runaway truck ramp commonly seen in Colorado's mountains, which slows the roll of an out-of-control truck as the tires sink into gravel.

On top of the lift-related complications that come with taking off and flying at higher elevations, the Telluride Regional Airport is also subject to tumultuous mountain weather. Strong winds and severe storms can make utilizing the airport more difficult and less predictable.

Learn more about what makes the Telluride Regional Airport 'one of the most dangerous' in America by watching the video below.

While the Telluride Regional Airport is often considered to be one of the most dangerous in the country, accidents are rare. In 2019, more than 9,000 aircraft operations took place at the site – averaging 26 per day. Accidents can happen – as they did when two died in a crash that occurred while on approach to the airport in 2020 – but they are few and far between.

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run.

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(3) comments

IrmaCrockett

The Telluride airport is no big deal-if you had flown into Lukla airport (Nepal Himalayas about 7,500’) where, until recently there was only a dirt runway, that went uphill, hewn into the side of a mountain with 2000’ drop off at one end and a wall 2500’ high at the other, and pieces of wrecked aircraft scattered alongside the runway, and twin otter aircraft pilots had to be able to actually see in between clouds to weave between the foothills to have visual contact with the runway; now, that was terrifying! 𝐖𝐰𝐰.𝐉𝐨𝐛𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐡𝟏.𝐜𝐨𝐦

IrmaCrockett

The Telluride airport is no big deal-if you had flown into Lukla airport (Nepal Himalayas about 7,500’) where, until recently there was only a dirt runway, that went uphill, hewn into the side of a mountain with 2000’ drop off at one end and a wall 2500’ high at the other, and pieces of wrecked aircraft scattered alongside the runway, and twin otter aircraft pilots had to be able to actually see in between clouds to weave between the foothills to have visual contact with the runway; now, that was terrifying!

CMagee

The Telluride airport is no big deal-if you had flown into Lukla airport (Nepal Himalayas about 7,500’) where, until recently there was only a dirt runway, that went uphill, hewn into the side of a mountain with 2000’ drop off at one end and a wall 2500’ high at the other, and pieces of wrecked aircraft scattered alongside the runway, and twin otter aircraft pilots had to be able to actually see in between clouds to weave between the foothills to have visual contact with the runway; now, that was terrifying!

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