Seasoned travelers plunge to travel whichever airport accessible regardless of how nerve-racking it is. But those with acrophobia won’t be so glad to approach these kinds of airports and neither infrequent flyers. One such infamous airport is Tenzing Hillary in Lukla which has the passengers freak out until the craft doesn’t land.
Its unevenly short runway withstanding strong crosswinds most of the time makes the airstrip slightly alarming. But in defiance of it, the airfield remains busy year-round. Trekkers from all over the world flock to this small town in order to ascend the mountains atop.
Flight to Lukla is action-packed with a pristine snow peak view, lustrous green hills, and diverse landscapes. Traversing Tenzing Hillary Airport is a joy given the mesmeric scenery of Mahalangur and streaming water bubbling over rocks, and beautiful terrace farms
It serves as a portal to Mount Everest. Thus travelers visit the region every year hoping to reach base camp if not the world’s highest mountain. Boarding the flight to Tenzing Hillary Airport is in itself a thrilling adventure provided the craze and dramatic vista.
Where is Tenzing Hillary Airport?
Tucked between soaring hills and mountains, Tenzing Hillary Airport is located in a small urban area of Solukhumbu. It’s entitled after the first mountaineers who reached the summit of Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Tenzing Norgay.
For that matter, it was Hillary who decided to build the airstrip at an elevation of 2,845 meters. The initial idea of the New Zealander was to construct it on a flat ploughland so that it’s harmless to take down the aircraft.
But the plan was not successful after the locals were not ready to trade their farmland. Hence, the Kiwi bought the land at the airport’s current location for US$2,650. He too hired Sherpas to smooth the surface.
For that, all he did was buy them a local liquor and request to stomp on the soil. Up to 37 years, the aircraft landed on the strip filled with tiny gravel rock and stones. It was later in 2001 when the airfield was finally steamrolled and pitched neat and clean with the asphalt concrete.
The composite material used to pave the runway allows blade choppers, fixed-wing, and short-take-off-landing like Twin Otter and STOL to fly above 17,598 ft. altitude. Tenzing Hillary Airport had its first commercial flight in 1964 on an unpaved surface.
Wide of the mark from standard runway length of 1,800 meters, Tenzing Hillary only has 527 meters long airstrip. It justly supports small aircraft weight as the heavy ones can hit the ground and cause huge damage to the helicopter.
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How far is Lukla Airport?
Tenzing Hillary Airport may stand at an elevation of 9,334 ft. high but it doesn’t take too long to reach the airport. actually, it’s just a matter of 40 minutes before you’ll get away from the dusty Kathmandu valley to wonderful Lukla and puffing its fresh air.
The flight to Lukla is intriguing past green pastures, high cliffs, and hillocks. Flyers on Tenzing Hillary Airport will enjoy a chain of mountains, fast-flowing rivers, and Rhododendron forests.
If you’ve been looked after by an agent, then they’ll provide you with a guide who navigates the way. Throughout the flight, they’ll keep you updated with every natural grandeur that comes on the way.
The flight can take a bit longer during the off-season due to poor climate, especially at Lukla airport. Fueled by heavy rain, aircraft often lose traction whilst monsoon as the airstrip becomes too slippery.
In that matter, risks are evenly high in winter as it triggers snowfall and fog. It also causes the pilot to hold up the flight until there is no further notice. So, whenever you are traveling to Tenzing Hillary Airport, double-check the flight and keep informed with the current weather forecast.
How much does it cost to fly to Tenzing Hillary Airport?
The flight cost to roll in Tenzing Hillary Airport depends on which national you belong to. As for native people, the fair is substantially less, be it accommodation, permit, or even the flight cost. Meanwhile, to foreign nationals, the flight will cost anywhere from US$180 to $200USD.
Being neighbors, charges are slightly low as compared to foreigners with just US$1,400. Not to forget, the price isn’t standard and keeps fluctuating at times. The cost of the ticket for Lukla swings due to the unpredictable weather conditions at the airport.
It also varies based on which season you’re traveling. The cost to hire a helicopter or even a regular flight is sky-high during winter as the weather is too harsh during the time. Continuous snowfalls and mist obstruct the visibility, causing the flight to delay and sometimes even postponed.
This might see a steady hike in your account. Thereby, it’s better to have a few extra dollars even if you’re covered. This will help you avoid any unfortunate circumstances that may come on the expedition.
Is Lukla Airport as threatening as they say?
Given the setting where it’s built and the high point, Tenzing Hillary Airport is a bit savage. It challenges the pilot with harsh weather, strong storms, and rain. But that doesn’t mean the airstrip hurts every person who takes the flight there.
In fact, it’s the people who overlook risks and don’t take the alarm seriously, prompting the incident. Besides that, the runway of Tenzing Hillary is too short, too narrow. This makes it difficult for even an experienced aviator to both land and take-off the plane.
The runway sits atop a 2000-foot cliff where the weather changes drastically. So, it’s really hard to scan the sudden alteration in wind speed and atmospheric pressure till the last minute.
At this altitude, the density of air is relatively low and this affects the reducing lift and power creating capacity aircrafts engines. To add, the airstrip inclines uphill with a rise of about 12 percent to maneuver choppers in reducing speed in time.
The airport in Lukla is in between the steep hills and terrains on all sides. At the one end of a runway, there’s a stone wall and the other a precipitous drop into the valley. For this reason, the airport is a bit dicey.
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