Episode 116: Landing In Lukla

The Gold Standard? We landed in Lukla, Nepal this morning and everyone was looking forward to seeing-and experiencing-the famous Lukla Airstrip. A quick flight to Lukla is the first stage of most treks to the South Side of Everest.

We had all heard so much about the Lukla Airport because of it’s unique runway. There is NO flat ground in the foothills leading up to Everest and therefore the small landing strip was placed in the best spot available: a 530m long, 20m wide hillside with a 12% grade and a rock wall at one end and a severe drop off at the other end!

As you come in for a landing you are seemingly hundreds of feet off of the ground when suddenly the cliff passes under the plane and you find yourself touching down on land that literally wasn’t there a second before.

Now, planes land at a fairly high rate of speed so you burn through the runway’s available real estate very quickly. Before you can blink you make an abrupt 90-degree turn to the right a split-second before crashing into the rock wall at the head of the runway.

The next thing you know you are being ushered out of the small Twin Otter aircraft by military men with rifles and whistles and herded away from the plane in a cacophony of prop noise and general chaos. Within 5 minutes you’re off of the tarmac, the plane has been unloaded, reloaded with new passengers and luggage and 3 other planes have lifted off or landed.

What an amazing experience!

We have all seen dozens of videos of this entire process on YouTube but Chris Marquardt and I knew that we had a unique opportunity to document it in our own special way…and from several simultaneous camera angles!

I think that what we and the team have captured has the ability to become the “Gold Standard” of Lukla landing videos. Maybe the video by which all other Lukla videos will be judged.

All I know is that we’re on our way to Everest and this landscape is big enough to safely contain our swollen egos.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 43:07