Best Places in the World for Recreational Flying

Every individual who has ever passed their finger over their freshly minted pilot certificate has mentioned the word “freedom” at some point in their explanation of why they learned to fly. They certainly struggled to express it well, but each of those little airport dots on that massive chart represented the underlying essence of why pilots fly. Most qualified to fly—solo or with others—on this beautiful planet can aim their aerial vehicle in any direction desired and explore the myriad of destinations the world has to offer.

If you’re preparing your aircraft for flight after a long time in the hangar, you may have certain locations in mind. However, if you’re seeking a new place to visit, explore these world’s greatest fly-in destinations for leisure flying.

Monument Valley, Utah

If you’ve seen any classic Western films starring John Wayne, you’ve probably seen Monument Valley. Goulding’s, a private airfield and resort only a few miles from the gorgeous core of this valley, serves as the gateway to this hidden jewel.

Call (435) 727-3231 with the aircraft information and arrival time to obtain permission to land. They’ll normally dispatch a courtesy van to drive you to the nearby 62-room Goulding’s Lodge. Please remember that these apartments are often occupied months in advance, so make your reservation as soon as possible. Additionally, the airport does not provide rental cars or aviation fuel, so make your arrangements accordingly.

The airstrip is at an elevation of 5,192 feet MSL and located at the base of a 700-foot mesa, and the runway is 4,000 feet long, making landing and takeoff difficult. 

If the breath-taking scenery isn’t enough to entice you, Goulding’s also features lovely campers, delicious dining, a trading post museum, various wildlife programs, and many tours into the valley.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

a view of the Grand Canyon National Park

You won’t be disappointed with visiting one of the World’s Seven Wonders and flying there in a plane is spectacular. The Grand Canyon National Park Airport is about two miles from the park’s entrance and seven miles from the canyon’s south rim.

The airport is towered and has a single 9,000-foot runway. There is no landing fee. However, there is an overnight parking fee, and fuel is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When flying over the canyon, traffic moves through specified routes and in specific patterns, and you must be familiar with the technique. Because of KGCN’s elevation of 6,609 feet, you must adopt high-density altitude techniques and be careful of up and downdrafts over the canyon.

After taking in the picturesque views of the blue Colorado River below, you may escape to one of four large hotels, including the Crown Plaza Resort and Grand Hotel, which are less than three miles away. Pilots can also fly into Grand Canyon West airstrip (1G4), located on the canyon’s west rim near the “Skywalk” outcrop.

Barra Airport, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Barra is the most southerly and smallest of the Outer Hebrides group of islands off Scotland’s west coast. It is well-known for being the world’s only licensed airport with a runway on a beach.

Yes, you read that correctly: a plane landing on the beach! The airport is only open at specific periods of the day, depending on the tides; however, scheduled aircraft arrive regularly. It’s not as arduous as it sounds to land there.

Victoria Falls Airport, Zimbabwe

Despite popular belief, the Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe is still a secure site to visit. The main reason for the airport’s existence is tourism related to the beautiful falls, which are undoubtedly worth seeing.

Although it is a huge international airport with lots of commercial activity, flying here can be fun. And, of course, it’s a great place to start if you want to see the falls.

Husein Sastranegara International Airport, Indonesia

front view of the Husein Sastranegara Airport, people and vehicles passing by

There are numerous reasons to visit Indonesia, including the islands, resorts, beaches, and historical architecture. As Indonesia’s economy expands, more travelers will seek new opportunities.

Husein Sastranegara International Airport is well-regarded, with about 4 million people passing through each year. It may become less congested when another airport, Kertajati International Airport, offers flights to Bandung.

Indonesia provides facilities and resorts prevalent across islands and distinct experiences depending on where you visit, allowing you to experience Indonesia in fresh ways each time you fly. However, remember that Indonesia is in the northwest Pacific region known as typhoon alley, where the world’s major typhoons usually form.

Le Touquet Airport, France

Le Touquet Airport in Northern France is arguably best known as the destination for many British pilots flying across the English Channel to start a touring holiday in Europe or for day trips.

As a result, practically everyone knows English, which is not often the case while flying in France, especially at major airports. Traveling pilots frequently utilize the airport.

If you choose to remain in the region, the town of Le Touquet is a short distance away, and the airport employees will assist you in booking hotels, cabs, and so on. The town itself is intriguing, appealing, and full of excellent cafes and restaurants, making it a truly enjoyable destination to visit.

Carcassonne Airport, France

Carcassonne is a lovely town with a lot of history, and the airport is relatively close to the city. It is a delightful place to visit, with enough to do and see in the surrounding area.

Inisheer Airport, Aran Islands, Ireland

a map of the Aran Islands

Inisheer Airport is situated on the small island of Inisheer, one of several Aran Islands off Ireland’s coast. It’s an intriguing, though rather terrifying, place to land, with a runway that extends from shore to shore from across the island. It is not an easy location to visit due to the harsh wind conditions and the small runway, but if you are up for it, it is a truly unique experience.

Manchester Airport, England

Lastly, at the other edge of the spectrum from the previous airport, why not try to fly into Manchester International Airport in northern England? You will be flying alongside a massive amount of scheduled air traffic. 

The jungle of taxiways you will be confronted with on landing may cause concern if you are unfamiliar with flying into this type of airport. But don’t worry; if you ask, the ground controllers will provide you with “progressive taxi instructions.”

So, grab your duffle bag and toothbrush, and get ready to go off. As a pilot, you have access to some of the world’s most beautiful resorts and holiday destinations. Adventure is a lifelong goal, and we hope we’ve sparked the desire to start today. 

Meanwhile, if you’re scared of heights, you may enjoy and indulge in the feeling of flying by watching some flying simulation videos.