Let’s take a break from all the gadgets and science, shall we? Our today’s article, while complimenting engineering, is more about how certain places are more than just dangerous; they are plain scary. No, this article isn’t about some haunted mansion or a theme park that is designed to scare the hell out of you! This one is about a certain Airport. Yeah, how can airports be scary? You think that’s a joke? Think again.
Welcome to Tenzing-Hillary Airport. Situated in Lukla, Nepal, this airport is situated at about 10,000 feet above the sea level. The airport is situated in the Himalayas, has a single narrow and short runway, it runs to the edge of the cliff thus rendering it as one of the most dangerous airports to land and take off from. For those of you who are unaware, Lukla is the entrance to the Himalayas. So, although the airport is rendered as one of the most dangerous; it is also one of the busiest airports in Nepal. A large number of helicopters and small aircrafts land here every day bringing mountain climbers who are willing to conquer one of the highest mountains in the world before. Most of them have admitted that the landing on this airport was far more scary than climbing the mountain itself. Once we look at its position and the extreme weather that the airport faces, it seems quite logical what the mountaineers had to say.Even on the best days, when everything is favorable, the airport is only operational for a few hours before it gives in to fog or strong winds. But that is least of the worries since a mere mistake of 1 to 2 meters will crash the plane during landing either resulting in hitting the mountain or over running the runway. Taking off is quite stressful too, failure to reach the required speed will result in crashing of the plane into the abyss down below. As it can be seen, it isn’t a walk in the park. The airport was carved out of the mountain and the genius behind this was Sir Edmund Hillary. This happened back in 1965, twelve years after he had conquered Mount Everest. Nowadays, thanks to this airport, one can arrive here from Khatmandu in a matter of hours compared to the previous journey of six days. However, planes that land over here are the small ones only. The track is 65 feet wide and is only capable of taking care of aircrafts such as Twin Otter or Dronier. The runway also qualifies for one the steepest runways with a gradient of 12%. Pilots usually land uphill to let gravity help in stopping the plane. Keeping in view all the above, it is not surprising to know that this airport had its fair share of accidents although they are much less than what you’d expect. Hats off to the Nepalese pilots who make 1-2 flights there everyday!