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Destinations: Far flungDestinations: Far flung

Airports at the farthest corners of the country

Pilot Briefing 2021
When you need to get away—and we mean really get away—consider these airports that are as close to leaving the country as you can get, without actually leaving the country.
Illustrations by John Dykes

NORTH

Falls International Airport (INL), Minnesota. Just across the Rainy River is Canada—to be specific, Fort Frances, Ontario. This port of entry has two runways (7,400 feet and 2,999 feet long). You will be cold; International Falls is the “icebox of the nation” and the imaginary setting of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s home of Frostbite Falls.

Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG), New York. Three waterfalls straddle the international border, and this airport makes a great staging area for an aerial tour of both sides of the border. No one can see the falls and the Canadian border better than a person in a GA aircraft.

Bangor International Airport (BGR), Maine. “First stop in, last stop out on the Great Circle Route” is the motto of Bangor’s airport. Its 11,440-foot-long runway is often the last stop before Canada, Greenland, and the great beyond.

Williston Basin International Airport (XWA), North Dakota. One of the newest airports in the country (2019), this northwest North Dakota airport serves the oil and gas industry as it sits in the center of the Bakken Formation, the largest continuous oil reserve assessed by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Pilot Briefing 2021Wales Airport (PAIW), Alaska. You will see Russia from here. It’s just 56 miles across the Bering Strait, the place where humans are believed to have crossed the Bering Sea land bridge into North America 12,000 years ago. There is a 3,990-foot-long gravel runway.

EAST

Key West International Airport (EYW), Florida. You are closer to Cuba than to Miami at Key West. Runway 9/27 is 5,076 feet long and is a jumping-off point for travelers to the Bahamas and beyond (see “Destinations: No Passport Required,” page 50).

Provincetown Municipal Airport (PVC), Massachusetts. The sand-swept dunes of outer Cape Cod often dust the 3,502-foot-long Runway 7/25, located at the very end of the Cape on Race Point Road. Take off over the Atlantic and see whales, sharks, and seals (see “Destinations: Natural Wonder,” page 58).

Cape May County Airport (WWD), New Jersey. Located in the nation’s oldest seashore resort, the airport has two runways—1/19 is 5,252 feet long and 10/28 is 4,998 feet.

Ocracoke Island Airport (W95), North Carolina. The Outer Banks of North Carolina are pretty remote so when locals says it’s “the most remote,” they’re not kidding. This island is like Brigadoon—seemingly to appear mysteriously out of nowhere. Runway 6/24 is 2,998 feet long and parallels the Atlantic shore.

Katama Airpark (1B2), Massachusetts. You can land on a grass field on the island of Martha’s Vineyard and stroll right to the beach.

SOUTH

Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport (BRO), Texas. The southernmost airport in Texas, BRO is a gateway to the Gulf of Mexico. The former U.S. Army airfield has two runways—7,399 and 6,000 feet.

Jeremiah Denton Airport (4R9), Alabama. On a narrow strip of Dauphin Island, Runway 12/30 is 3,000 feet of asphalt smack in the middle of Mobile Bay.

Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), New Mexico. The airport’s three runways sit on a mesa overlooking the desert and while you can’t leave the Earth from here, Spaceport is nearby so it’s pretty “out there.”

WEST

Friday Harbor Airport (FHR), Washington. You’ll have to cross the Salish Sea to the San Juan Islands to reach Friday Harbor and you’re nearly past Canada. Runway 16/34 is 3,402 feet and pops you right out over the sea. Smaller, private Roche Harbor Airport (WA09) gets you even closer to Canada; your cellphone will ping, welcoming you to Canada.

Brown Field Municipal Airport (SDM), California. Just a little over a mile from Tijuana, San Diego’s Brown Field is a port of entry from Mexico. Runway 8L/26R is a 7,972-foot-long jump out of the country.

Catalina Airport (AVX), California. Known as the “Airport in the Sky” because it sits at the highest elevation of Catalina Island off the Southern California coast, it has a single 3,000-foot-long runway that challenges pilots with its mesa-like structure.

Shelter Cove Airport (0Q5), California. Located north of San Francisco on California’s “Lost Coast,” beware the fog that often hides this black-sand island. Crashing waves near 3,407-foot-long Runway 12/30 let you know you’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

Copalis State Airport (S16), Washington. Weather permitting, you can land right on the beach on Runway 14/32. Situated on the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Copalis is the only beach airport in the country.

aopa.org/destinations

What did we miss? Email [email protected] and add “Far Flung” to the subject line.

Email [email protected]

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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