The Only Beach Airport in the U.S. is in Washington and It Takes Guts to Land There [WATCH]
Yes, the only beach airport in the contiguous United States is located in Copalis Beach, Washington. And, when they say “beach” they mean, planes land on the sand when the tide and other conditions permit.
According to the Washington Department of Transportation, it’s the only beach in Washington where it’s legal to land. What makes this landing strip so unique is that the size of the runway changes often, sometimes daily - tides (the moon phase), erosion, and the Coplais River’s migration all impact conditions. So, if you're a pilot and plan to make a trip to Copalis Beach, you’ll need to check the WSDOT Copalis Beach Airport site for current conditions and restrictions before you take off.
What to look for when arriving and how to identify the landing area at Copalis Beach Airport
The sandy landing area is just 1' above sea level and is marked with orange reflectors at the north and south ends of the runway. It is recommended to do a flyover to observe the area before attempting an approach and pilots should be sure the sand is in good condition. For example, dark, wet sand is typically hard and is best for landing. Light-colored sand is known to be soft and mushy and not safe for landing.
This airport gets busy in the summer and is a popular “day trip” for private pilots. Sometimes it might be an "hour trip" as pilots are at the mercy of the tides. Stay too long and you could lose the plane to the incoming tide - an expensive (and embarrassing) mistake. Check out the cool video from YouTube user Amy White – she makes a perfect landing.