Tenzing-Hillary Airport, also known as Lukla Nepal Airport is situated 3000 meters above sea level deep in the Himalayas, and it`s considered to be the scariest, most dangerous airport in the world. The runway is a real nightmare for all the pilots as well as the passengers. Why? Because it`s short and narrow (460 by 20 m (1,510 by 66 ft), and ends in a abyss.
Lukla is the getaway to the Himalayas, so all the climbers, tourist and visitors must land there if they want to climb the mighty Mount Everest. If we consider the bad weather conditions, it`s no wonder that the landing is more frightening than the climbing itself. Even on it`s best day the airport is open only few hours before the fog and the strong winds shut it down. When landing, the slightest error in calculation can have devastating outcome. Taking off is also very difficult, not enough speed means going down into the abyss.
The airport was built in 1965 by Sir Edmund Hillary, 12 years after his fist climb on Everest. Today, thanks to him all the climbers can reach Kathmandu in a couple of hours instead taking a 24 hours bus drive and another 5 hours of climbing. It was renamed in 2008 in honor of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
The runway can only be used by small airplanes, since it`s only 20 meters wide and has a 12% gradient. The pilots have to circle the mountain in order to land, and shut down the engines before touching the ground. The navigation depends only on the pilots skills and how well they can fight off the strong wind and the dents clouds.
Several accidents happened over the years. The biggest one recorded was in October 2008, when a Yeti Airlines airplane crashed and 18 passengers died. The official reason was the heavy fog.
Feel free the watch this video from a safe distance 🙂