|It is not the Twin Otter,
17-seat airplane flown by Yeti airlines that concerns me. Rather,
it is the airport at Lukla where we land 45 minutes after departing
Kathmandu that frightens all of us. Carved out of the side of a mountain,
the runway, as long as it can possibly be, is too short to land this
type of aircraft with all passengers, gear, and supplies. To compensate
for that, the dirt and grass runway has been angled at about 6
the plane to "hit" the end and taxi uphill as the pilots madly slam
on the brakes and reverse engines. The takeoff will be even more spectacular
as the plane rushes furiously downhill, gaining speed as it literally
drops off a 6,000 ft. embankment and soars out (down?) into space.
We all breathe a sigh of relief as we step off the plane and inhale
the crisp mountain air. We are here -- I am going to Mt. Everest!