Remind me again why I’m doing this.
I think I’ve just made my first mistake in planning this trip. I read the Wikipedia site on the airport at Lukla. Not a good idea as it turns out. Sometimes I just don’t know when to stop, because then I made my second mistake, I watched U Tube footage of a plane taking off from the airport. Google maps showing the terrain really didn’t help either. Lukla is the starting point of the trek and to get there requires a short flight from Kathmandu in a Twin Otter aircraft. World Expeditions, in their blurb, describe it as ‘a memorable flight with amazing views’.
I don’t doubt it for one minute.
Notice the mountains in the picture? Well the pilot, of a tiny aircraft, needs to navigate his way around those mountains, banking and descending through several layers of cloud and mist, apparently without the help of landing aids, using just his own keen sense of sight (one would hope that it’s keen anyway). Then he has to pull the aircraft to a halt within 460 metres – hopefully with a bit of room to spare. And then, to get out of there he has to gun his engines and race back down the 12 degree gradient hoping like hell to take off before reaching the 700 metre drop at the end of the runway.
Does it help that only the most experienced pilots in Nepal fly to Lukla? Probably, just a bit.
Lukla is the highest airport with scheduled flights in the world and acknowledged as one of the most dangerous, and I’m going visiting.
But, on a positive note, considering there are around 50 flights a day in and out of Lukla in the high season and accidents are rare, it’s probably no more dangerous than driving to work.
Enough said! Let’s move on!