10 most remote and exciting destinations to fly to in a private jet With Roland Dangerfield of Sentinel Aviation
Tswalu, South Africa (FATW). Sublimely remote, the approach over miles and miles of the red sand dunes of the Kalahari hints as to the vast scale of the region, before touching down on the private runway surrounded by savannah. Privately owned jets can fly directly to Tswalu from London, and charters can either fly into Upington and transfer in Tswalu’s Agusta helicopter, or to Johannesburg or Cape Town before a transfer in a Pilatus PC12. Tswalu is the largest private reserve in South Africa, and here in this malaria-free wilderness, they are committed to working towards best practice in sustainability in conservation, community, commerce and culture.
La Nava, Spain (LEIZ). La Nava is one of the finest partridge shooting estates in Spain, with a private runway, and nothing is too much trouble for your hosts and their staff. The lodge has been purpose built to ensure that parties want for nothing: saunas, a fully equipped gym, swimming pools and beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms make it hard to beat. The food and wine is superb and the house staff are very accommodating and quietly efficient.
Barra (BRR), Scotland. On a tiny island in the stunning Outer Hebrides, this airport requires a beach landing, and is for turbo prop aircraft only. The approach has superb views over to Skye and the smaller islands, and then the causeway between Eriskay and South Uist comes into view as you fly over the sand dunes to land on the beach. Flight times have to take the tide into consideration, as the runway is literally washed away once a day. Cars with their lights on in the car park provide pilots with added visibility on gloomy days, as the airport has no artificial lighting.
Alta Airport, North Norway (ALF). If you want some of the finest Atlantic Salmon fishing in the world, the Alta river still produces a few fish over 50lb in weight in most years and is probably the best salmon fly-fishing river in the world to give you a chance of a leviathan. The airport has a spectacular approach over the mountains, dropping down into the Fjord for a circle before landing.
Samedan, Switzerland (SMV). The local airport for St Moritz, this without a doubt tops all the skiing destinations for sheer adrenalin, excitement and beauty. Located in the Engadin Valley, the airport is extremely challenging to fly into, being surrounded by a mountainous region wherein the flight procedures and aircraft performances are very strongly affected by difficult topography, high winds and the thinness of the air at this altitude. The approach to and the departure from Samedan is limited to flight crews holding a special briefing and can only be made under “Visual Flying Rules”.
Reykjavik, Iceland (RKV). Flying across the spectacular volcanic landscape, the descent into Reykjavik city is amongst mountainous terrain with frequent unpredictable winds and the sea at the end of the short runway.
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (UBN). Flying in over a spectacular landscape of hills and mountains, as you approach the airport you can see how remote it is and instead of houses and farms you see hundreds of tiny little yurts. The airport faces frequent closures because of strong winds, sand or snow storms and on departure in the summer, being “hot and high” a flight back to London will see a business jet use almost all of the runway for take off.
Aspen, Colorado (ASE). Extremely challenging to fly into, Aspen is arguably one of the toughest airports to land in the world. There's a lot of surrounding terrain, variable winds, and it's a one-way in, one-way out airport requiring a swift descent at high altitude. Wedged between two mountains, you land one direction and then turn around and take-off the opposite direction.
St Maarten, Caribbean (SXM). The airport has very low-altitude flyover landing approaches because one end of its runway is extremely close to the shore and Maho Beach, resulting in aircraft flying over the beach at altitudes of less than 30m above ground level, much to the thrill of the sunbathers. From here it’s a short hop to St Barths.
Innsbruck, Austria (INN). Innsbruck Airport is well known for having a difficult approach due to the surrounding terrain and currents, prohibiting certain aircraft types from operating at the airport. It is a Category C airport, an airport with special difficulties requiring pilots to have specific training before using it. Popular with skiers who enjoy the stunning views of snowy mountains on the way in and out, the summer approach into Innsbruck is equally spectacular with a long visual approach down the Valley from the West in bright sunshine and green alpine pastures with the high walls of the mountains to the left and right of you.