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Southern California Has 3 of the Nation's "Scariest" Airports

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Which take-offs and and landings give you white knuckles as you clutch the arm rest (or the poor stranger next to you)?

The blog for Airfare Watchdog came up with an unranked list of the 10 scariest airports to take off or land on in the United States. It adds one caveat: "These days, flying is one of the safest ways to get from point A to point B." Three airports on the list are in Southern California.

John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana made the list because of its strict noise reduction requirements. That means that during takeoff pilots have to ascend and full throttle and then suddenly cut back their engines. That explains why takeoff from John Wayne has been compared to a space shuttle liftoff.

San Diego International Airport is scary because of its location. It's near downtown, surrounded by mountains to the north and east, and there's Mexican airspace to contend with to the south. The site says tailwinds blowing in from the west "force nose-to-nose takeoffs and landings."

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The Catalina Airport to the north of Avalon is scary for a couple of reasons. Its runway is short (and as you can see in the picture above, there isn't much room for error). Pilots can also expect to brave downdrafts and turbulence as they land. Heavy rains means the runway is full of potholes, loose asphalt and soft softs. (On the bright side, hikers can take in beautiful views at the "Airport in the Sky" once they land.)

The seven others airports that round out the scary list are Aspen/Pitkin County Airport in Aspen; Midway International Airport in Chicago; Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport in Sitka, Alaska; Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia; LaGuardia Airport in New York; and Telluride Regional Airport in Teulluride, Colorado.

Any others?

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