At This Airport in Scotland, the Runway Disappears at High Tide

There are fewer than 1,200 inhabitants on the Scottish island of Barra, a far outpost of Britain in the North Atlantic. The island is anchored to the rest of the UK by a vital air link to Glasgow. It’s this scenic 140-mile flight and the airport it connects to that draws tourists and aviation enthusiasts from all over. Barra Airport is the only airport in the world where scheduled flights land on a beach. Loganair runs two daily flights to Barra Airport, which just 8 miles long and 5 miles wide. There’s no concrete or tarmac to land on, so aircraft make use of the wide expanse of sand as a makeshift runway, timing arrivals with the tides. It’s an unusual way to land at an airport, but the only other alternative is to reach the island by sea, and that can sometimes be just as dangerous as landing on sand.