Planes Landing Lukla Airport

http://www.travelandshortbreaks.com Planes landing and taking off at Lukla Airport on Nepal trek around Namche Bazaar Khumjung. We flew from Kathmandu airport right into the mountains to be met by our guide.When we landed we took some time to watch other planes landing at Lukla airport. Lukla aiport was renamed Hillary Tensing Airport in 2008.Planes landing at Lukla airport strip do so on the steep incline of a hillside. Its length is 450 m and width 20m and the runway incline is a staggering 12%. The apron has 4 stands and there is one heli-pad located 150m below the air traffic control tower. No landing aids are available and Air Traffic Service is limited to AFIS (Aerodrome Flight Information Service) only.Planes landing in Lukla airport leave no room for error. Pilots throw their propellers into hard reverse before they touch down and gun the engines as they race down the hill for takeoff. Considering the extreme landscape it was the best candidate for the engineers to construct the facility. The strip is at an elevation of 2800 m with a an abrupt drop off down to a river valley below. The approach for planes landing in Lukla airport is through a maze of spectacular mountain peaks and the air is often cluttered with clouds.There is a big hill right behind the landing strip. You also need to clear a high ridge, bank left, descend steeply, straighten the airplane and land. Navigation is by sight only and you need to negotiate several layers of clouds which can hang on the high hill or rise from the deep valley. This is why flights will often be cancelled and you could be stuck in Lukla waiting for a plane for days on end.If this is worrying you one comforting thought is that only the most experienced pilots in Nepal are landing planes at Lukla airport.The airport is quite popular as Lukla is the place where most people start their trek to the Khumbu and Everest Base Camp and Lukla is Nepal's busiest domestic airport, and in the peak season the airlines have planes landing in Lukla airport over 50 times a day.