As we gear up for another exciting travelling season, we continue with a countdown of the Liberty Park Press’ top-5 airports to land at in the world. Selection criteria include scenery, excitement and of course reputation.
With two sea level approaches and potential water hazards for our first two destinations on the countdown, it is time for a drastic change, as we literally head for the hills and the border to the highest point on earth.
European mountaineers with the necessary support and assistance from local sherpas, literally put Nepal on the map in the middle of the 20th century in scaling the seemingly unfathomable heights of the mighty and the daunting Himalayan Mountain range. Sir Edward Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became global celebrities, as the pair became the first humans to officially summit the champion of peaks in the world, Mt Everest, in 1953. Since the mighty dual successfully summitted the 29, 029 foot behemoth, the floodgates were opened for expert mountaineers and thrill seekers to attempt to duplicate the amazing accomplishment.
Lukla, a nearly obscure mountain village in Nepal of just over 200 permanent residents, serves as the official trail head to the base camp of Everest (a nine day hike) and the various necessary stops for climbers to acclimate to altitude along the way. It is a little known fact that Hillary helped to facilitate the construction of the nearby airport in 1964, which was built almost exclusively by the labor of sherpas. With the existence of the one- runway concrete landing strip, climbers gain the advantage of arriving at the doorstep of Everest with the addition wear and tear from an additional arduous hike, however with the length challenged area of the landing zone surrounded by mountainous terrain and with the threat of ugly weather, this may not be a fair trade off. Numerous crashes within proximity to the town have occurred over the last thirty years.
As the West to East flight originates from Kathmandu in a smaller propeller plane due the length of the runway at Lukla, the traveler gains nearly a mile in altitude. While the pilot aims to stick the landing at nearly 9,400 feet above sea level which looks like an impossibility from the cockpit, the steep descent offers a live and breathtaking show of jagged terrain and deep valleys. The only opportunity for the passenger to completely exhale comes at the moment the aircraft lands safely and literally avoids ramming into a wall of stone at the end of the runway.
VIDEO: The Surgical Landing At Lukla’s Airstrip