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THE RUNWAY — I have a two-car garage and because of that I will always have at least two cars in it. I hate my car getting way too hot in the summer or covered with snow in the winter. That's why I have a garage.
But the garage at our home was added on years after the home was built, so it fits both cars but is pretty snug. My heart pounds a bit whenever I pull in a car hoping not to hit a side wall or, heaven forbid, the other car and mess up both our vehicles.
I bring this up because if I am nervous about parking in my garage, then I have no business ever learning to fly a plane and landing at this airport.
This video captures a plane landing at the Tenzing–Hillary Airport, also known as the Lukla airport. It is known as the "world's most dangerous airport," and for good reason. Without knowing any of the history or logistics of the airport and just watching this video, you can see that the runway is short, at high elevation, and the surrounding mountains are unforgiving.
But as you get to know the Lukla airport, it gets even more nefarious.
The small runway is located in the town of Lukla, in Nepal. The official name of the airport is derived from Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first people confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. Hillary purchased the land and had the airport, built in 1964.
The runway itself is less than 1,800 feet in length, which isn't terribly long if you're curious. In addition to the short runway, the airport is positioned at over 9,000 feet in elevation and is surrounded by high mountains. That means you don't get a second chance at landing. If you don't nail it the first time, you have nowhere to go to make another attempt.
The airport is so dangerous that a pilot has to meet very specific requirements to land there. Those requirements include at least 100 completed short-takeoff-and-landing missions, at least one year of short-takeoff-and-landing experience in Nepal, and have completed 10 flights into Lukla with a certified instructor pilot.
It's incredible that there are pilots this confident and good at what they do that landing at the world's most dangerous airport is just another day at work. I'll just keep working on getting into my garage without dinging the side mirror.