The focus in aviation has always been on flying farther and staying airborne for longer. And yet, while long-haul flights have the undeniable allure of the exotic, other, much shorter air routes have the beauty of the minimal.
May 2018 saw the launch of one of the world's shortest international commercial flights -- a 15-minute hop between the Caribbean island of Aruba and Venezuela's Punto Fijo.
To mark the event, we've compiled a list of air routes that stand out for being the shortest commercial flights on the planet. What's it like to fly when you are within sight of your final destination?
Shortest international commercial flight
Sint Maarten (Dutch Caribbean) to Anguilla (British Overseas Territory)
Not only is the airport approach to the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten regularly voted one of the world's most scenic, it's home to the world's shortest international commercial flight route: the 10-minute, 12-mile trip between Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) and Anguilla's Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (AXA).
Other super-short international routes from Sint Maarten include the 15-minute, 20-mile journey to the French Overseas Collectivity of St Barts.
The newest addition to the roster of quickie international routes in the Caribbean is the 15-minute, 51-mile trip between Aruba, in the Dutch Caribbean, to Punto Fijo in Venezuela, which launched May 18, 2018.
Aruba Airlines, in partnership with the Venezuelan government, will be running a Bombardier CRJ-200LR twice a week on the route between Aruba's Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba and Venezuela's Las Piedras Josefa Camejo International Airport, with onward connections to Curacao, Bonaire and Miami.
Aruba (Dutch Caribbean) to Punto Fijo (Venezuela)
Airline: Aruba Airlines. (AUA-LSP). Distance: 51 miles (82 kilometers). In January 2018, Venezuela implemented a three-month commercial blockade on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, with the Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro alleging that its neighbors were plundering his country's resources and selling them on the black market.
While connections between Venezuela and Aruba remain restricted, relations have eased enough for a new flight route to have opened May 18 between Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba, and Venezuela's Las Piedras Josefa Camejo International Airport.
There are 51 miles between the two airports, but the flight time is just eight minutes.
Aruba Airlines, in partnership with the Venezuelan government, will be running a Bombardier CRJ-200LR on the route twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, with onward connections to Curacao, Bonaire and Miami.
Prices for the journey start at $215 -- or $27 per minute.
Shortest regular commercial flight
Westray to Papa Westray (Scotland)
Airline: Loganair. (WRY-PPW). Distance: Two miles (three kilometers). A narrow stretch of water separates the Orkney islands of Westray and Papa Westray, off the north coast of Scotland. Scottish airline Loganair has been running an air bridge between these two tiny Scottish islands for around 50 years, making it the shortest nonstop regular flight anywhere in the world.
The flight, operated by a Britten-Norman Islander eight-seater aircraft, takes just over a minute, but on occasions has been as short as 53 seconds, depending on tail wind.
"This route is used mainly by the people of the Orkney Islands going about their daily routines," says Andy Thornton, Loganair's director of flight operations. "It is used by teachers, the local police officer, the banker and children going to school. However it is also a keen route for tourists and aviation enthusiasts."
(Possibly) the shortest commercial flight
Kegata to Apowo (Papua, Indonesia)
Distance 1.3 miles (two kilometers).
They're only 1.3 nautical miles apart and within sight of each other, but the Papuan hilltop settlements of Kegata and Apowo are separated by a deep forested valley in an isolated part of Indonesia. Traveling between the two villages by land involves an arduous journey through thick jungle and steep mountainsides.
Much better if you can hop across that big ravine on Matt Dearden's Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter, a robust single-engined aircraft that seats up to 10 passengers.
Dearden, a British pilot operating local air services in remote areas of Papua, flew several revenue services on this route. Although not a regular connection, it carried fare-paying passengers, which makes it, possibly, the shortest commercial flight anywhere in the world.
The rough, wet grass and scenic runways, dramatically perched on the mountaintops, surely make for quite an experience.
"Both the air strips in question are short, about 350 meters for Kegata and 400 meters for Apowo, slippery wet grass and sloped towards the terrain," says Dearden. "Like many air strips in Papua there are no go-arounds once you are committed to land!"
Shortest intercontinental regular commercial flight
Since launching the company in 1957, Royal Air Maroc has grown into a fleet of 54 aircraft.
KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images/File
Tangiers (Morocco) to Gibraltar (British Overseas Territory)
Just nine miles separate Europe and Africa at the Straits of Gibraltar's narrowest point. Fast ferries ply this route constantly. Nevertheless those keen to avoid the choppy waters between the two continental landmasses have an alternative in Royal Air Maroc.
Morocco's flag carrier offers a regular flight, operated by ATR-72 turboprop aircraft, linking Tangiers, at the northern tip of Morocco, to the British territory of Gibraltar.
Shortest flight between two national capitals
Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) to Brazzaville (Republic of Congo)
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville), face each other across the muddy waters of the river Congo.
Two airlines fly between the two cities, ASKY, a pan-African airline that operates across West Africa, and Camair-Co, of Cameroon (although the Camair-Co service is temporarily suspended).
Ethiopian Airlines also once flew between the two capitals on the Congo river, as the last leg of a triangular route that started in Addis Ababa. However, it didn't have permission to carry local traffic. Ethiopian had no less than a Boeing 787 Dreamliner deployed on this route, which at the time also made it the shortest regular commercial flight operated by a wide-body airliner.
Shortest regular commercial flight in North America
The US island of Nantucket.
Barnstaple Municipal Airport to Nantucket Memorial Airport (Massachusetts)
Airline: Cape Air. (HYA-ACK). Distance: 30.49 miles (49.07 kilometers).
There are a few regular North American commercial flights hovering around the 30-mile mark -- the 32.16-mile jaunt between Canada's Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Niagara District Airport, the 31.09-mile trip between Alaska's Petersburg Municipal Airport and Wrangell Airport -- but the shortest of all can be found in Massachusetts.
It's just 30.49 miles between Barnstaple Municipal Airport on Cape Cod to Nantucket Memorial Airport, which itself likes just three miles outside of Nantucket town center.
The route is regularly serviced by Cape Air, which is based out of Barnstaple Airport.