Five of our favourites - mountain airstrips

Published: 11 Dec 2017

Don’t let the scenery fool you: great beauty hides great need, which is why MAF are 'flying for life' in mountain locations, strengthening the resilience of the people who live there. 

To celebrate International Mountain Day – yes it really is a thing (watch the video to find out more) - and check out 5 of our favourite mountain related airstrips! 


1. Matakene airstrip - Lesotho

Undoubtedly one of the scariest airstrips in the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, if you’re a passenger. The airstrip ends abruptly after 585 meters with a cliff and a huge drop! Did we mention that it’s 7550 ft above sea level?

2. Guasa airstrip - Papua New Guinea

The 510-meter-long airstrip at Guasa in the Eastern Highlands mountains has a 9.2% slope so you want to land uphill. Access to the village is a 20-minute flight or a two day walk to reach the closest road so if you need to reach the village then you probably want to fly. MAF recently flew in to fix their radio so it’s easier now to arrange a flight!

3. Tsetserleg - Mongolia

This airstrip near Tsetserleg is more of a flat piece of ground on the Mongolian steppe! Blue Sky Aviation (MAF in Mongolia) open this temporary airstrip every spring for the short summer months. Tsetserleg sits in a small valley surrounded on three sides by the Khangai Mountains. Just as the plane is about to land, an appointed person quickly erects an air sock and marks out the landing strip with cones. It was used earlier this year to medevac a tourist who’d been hiking in the mountains.   

4. Suai - Timor-Leste 

The green hills of Timor-Leste stand between the area of Suai and the capital Dili.  To drive there from Dili would take between eight to ten hours, over winding, mountainous roads, which are often in very poor condition. With MAF’s assistance, a flight to Suai, can be as short as thirty minutes when the weather co-operates. One of MAF’s partners Counterpart International is helping women and other marginalised groups through advocacy – with impressive results. Life is improving for women and their families living in a very remote corner isolated by geography. 

5. Tibesti Mountains - Chad

The Tibesti mountains of Chad are the highest mountain range in the Sahara Desert and one of the most breath-taking sights in the natural world. Travelling north in a Cessna Caravan you fly over Emi Koussi - a volcano and at 3445 meters, the highest peak in the Tibesti range. The mountains are a formidable barrier for anyone wishing to reach isolated communities like the Oasis town of Bardai in far north of Chad to deliver healthcare, dentistry or education.