15 Delightfully Quirky Airports and Airstrips

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istock

Today is International Civil Aviation Day, which makes it the perfect time to celebrate some of the globe’s most amazing places to land. These 15 airports and airstrips are worthy destinations in their own right.

1. Copalis State Airport

Why fly to a beach vacation when you can literally land on a beach? This sand airstrip on the Pacific Ocean in Washington stretches between the Copalis River to the south and a line of rocks on the north. Plan your trip ahead of time, though—it’s only accessible during low tide.

2. Courchevel Altiport

This airport in the French Alps is one of the world’s most dangerous. Its runway is insanely short (just 537 meters) and there are no lights to guide pilots in fog or stormy weather. Oh, and watch out for skiers—the airport sits next to an active ski run. Once you’ve landed safely, the airport offers amazing access to views of the Alps and the slopes.

3. Gibraltar Airport

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This airport servicing British-controlled Gibraltar offers incredible views of the famous rock that shares its name. Keep your eyes on the road if you’re driving in Gibraltar, though—a street intersects the runway.

4. Matekane Air Strip

This tiny strip in Lesotho abruptly ends at the edge of a 2,000-foot cliff. Good thing planes can fly!

5. Williams Field, Antarctica

Naturally, conditions are icy here, and ski-equipped planes have to land on deep snow that sits atop a floating layer of ice.

6. Daocheng Yading Airport

When this Chinese airport opened in 2013, it became the highest civilian airport in the world at 14,472 feet above sea level.

7. Barra Airport

This airport, located on a beach in Western Scotland, is made up of three sand runways. Much like the Copalis State Airport, take-offs and landings have to be scheduled around the tides.

8. Madeira Airport

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This Portuguese airport had to extend its runway in order to accommodate larger aircraft. The existing strip ended on the water, so the designers had to be clever. The solution: A runway on stilts, jutting out past the island’s edge.

9. Paro Airport

Only eight pilots in the world are certified to land at this extremely dangerous airport nestled in the Himalayas in Bhutan. The approach is so perilous, weather has to be perfectly clear in order to land.

10. Kansai International Airport

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Osaka’s international airport is on a man-made island three miles off the coast in Osaka Bay. It was built in 1994 to ease overcrowding within Osaka proper.

11.Tenzing-Hillary Airport

If you want to climb Mt. Everest, chances are you’ll fly into this Nepalese airport, which is susceptible to such wild weather shifts and terrible visibility that mountaineers’ adventures often begin while they’re still on their planes.

12. Princess Juliana International

Beachgoers can almost touch planes as they fly overhead on the way to this St. Maarten airport. The low approach and scenic views make it one of the world’s best spots for plane watching.

13. Don Mueang International

A private 18-hole golf course is nestled between two runways at this Thai airport. Fore!

14. King Fahd International

At 780 square kilometers, this Saudi Arabian airport is by far the biggest airport in the world. It’s larger than the entire country of Bahrain!

15. Juancho E. Yrausquin

There is little room for error on this tiny airstrip. Shoehorned in the Dutch Antilles, the lone runway is surrounded by steep cliffs and high hills on all sides.

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

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Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

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7 Fascinating Facts About Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe performs at the State Theatre in Minneapolis in 2018.
Janelle Monáe performs at the State Theatre in Minneapolis in 2018.

In music, there are artists, original artists, and then there’s Janelle Monáe. Since breaking out a decade ago with her first album, 2010's The ArchAndroid, Monáe—who was born on December 1, 1985—has seemed unstoppable, pushing the envelope with her astonishing blend of different musical styles, daring fashion sense, and serious acting chops. Bottom line: If Janelle Monáe has a new project, it’s going to be worth checking out. Here are some fascinating facts about the talent behind The Electric Lady.

1. Responding to a fan got Janelle Monáe fired from her job at Office Depot.

Before hitting it big, Monáe paid the bills by working at Office Depot while she was attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She received an email from a fan and sent a response—on a company computer. She was let go, but the experience inspired her to write the song “Lettin’ Go.”

2. Janelle Monáe is still annoyed about losing the lead in a high school production of The Wiz.

Monaé's talent was clear at a young age. Growing up in Kansas City, Kansas, she won three consecutive Juneteenth talents shows by covering songs from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill each year. However, while Monáe headlined many of her high school's musicals, she lost one major part—Dorothy in The Wiz—because family duty called. Monaé's mom needed to be picked up from work, which meant that the aspiring actress had to leave her audition early. As a result, a fellow classmate got the part; according to Rolling Stone, it's something that still bothers Monáe to this day.

3. Janelle Monáe’s acting career had an animated start.

Janelle Monáe stars in Antebellum (2020).Lionsgate

As if Monáe's music career wasn't impressive enough, she's also shown some serious acting talent in the last several years. Monáe has been a powerful presence in films like Moonlight and Hidden Figures, along with her starring role in the second season of Homecoming. However, her first film appearance was a voice acting role. In the animated sequel Rio 2, Monáe played the aptly named Dr. Monáe, a veterinarian. Her song "What Is Love" was also featured on the film's soundtrack.

4. Janelle Monáe had a close friendship with Prince.

There are countless musicians and artists who can claim the late Prince as an inspiration. Few of them can actually call him a friend. The Purple Rain mastermind championed Monáe and helped guide her creative process. According to Rolling Stone, he was the first person to receive a copy of Monáe's debut studio album, The ArchAndroid, which was delivered with flowers and a handwritten tracklist.

5. Janelle Monáe’s albums have had a narrative thread.

Monáe’s love for science-fiction is quite apparent, based on her discography and expressed fondness for films like Fritz Lang’s groundbreaking silent film Metropolis, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her debut EP, Metropolis: The Chase Suite, and first two studio albums, The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady, each centered around an alter-ego: Cindi Mayweather. This titular "archandroid" was meant to serve as a bridge between humans and robots. During The Electric Lady tour, fans were given pamphlets labeled "The Ten Droid Commandments." The Afrofuturism and sci-fi elements of Monáe's earlier music aren't emphasized as much on her most recent album, Dirty Computer, but the excellent quality is.

6. Janelle Monáe has been honored by Harvard.

Monáe has racked up numerous awards, including an MTV Video Music Award, a Satellite Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Soul Train Music Awards, and even more nominations. She also has some serious Ivy League endorsements. In 2014, after headlining Harvard’s annual Yardfest event, Monáe was the first recipient of the award for Achievement in Arts and Media by the Harvard College Women’s Center. That same year, the Harvard Black Men’s Forum named Monáe Woman of the Year.

7. Janelle Monáe pays tribute to her parents through her outfits.

Janelle Monáe performing at the 2016 Boston Calling Music Festival.digboston via Flickr // CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to her fashion sense, Monáe is known for her daring styles. One of her most iconic looks is a black and white tuxedo. Discussing this on Fresh Air, Monáe said she did this to honor her parents, who had to wear uniforms throughout their work lives. Her mother even worked a catering job with a tuxedo uniform dress code. "So that was one reason why I was constantly wearing the black-and-white tuxedo," she said. "And then I wanted to rebel against the gender norms and what it meant to dress like a woman or what it meant to dress like a man."