Ask the Captain: What is the hardest airport to navigate? Are foreign airlines less safe?

What was the most difficult airport for you to navigate?

– John, Springfield, Missouri

The airport that was most challenging for me is actually closed now. That was Meigs Field in Chicago. 

Airliners did not fly into Meigs, but corporate jets and turboprops did. I flew turboprops into Meigs several times during the 1970s. Occasionally, it was a definite challenge.

When the cloud ceiling was low, getting to the airport required conducting an instrument approach to Chicago Midway Airport. Then once I was below the clouds, I would have then have to rely on visual flight rules to fly to the lake, find Meigs and align with the runway. There were also buildings that had to be avoided during the transition from Midway to the lake. 

There are also some extreme examples in Nepal and China that require extraordinary training and skill.

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