Holiday mountain flying special! In episode 3, we speak to senior Nepalese mountain flying captain Binod Puri right after he flies me to the "world's most dangerous airport" and back on a Czech-built Let 410 Turbolet. Lukla's Tenzing-Hillary airport is an exceptional altiport: a one-way 1.729ft (527m) sloped runway at an altitude of 9.2000ft (2800m) with an 11.7% gradient, a cliff on one end and a stone wall on the other, towering mountains on all sides and unpredictable, fast-changing weather (as we'll see). Should you ever wish to scale Mount Sagarmatha, aka Everest, this is the closest serviced airport you can fly to.
We talk about:
- Why the margin of error is extremely low in Lukla
- Some of the risks involved in mountain flying
- STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) aircraft you might see
- How (and where) Nepalese pilots train
- The importance of CRM (cockpit resource management)
- The language that pilots use on the radio
- How aviation has changed over the years in Nepal
- Advice for new pilots and anxious passengers
If you are unfamiliar with Lukla airport, this video of the approach on YouTube should give you a good idea of what it's like. You'll also find another video on the Ground Effect Podcast Instagram page I took from inside the cockpit that shows how close to the mountains we get and how at multiple occasions you get to hear the EGPWS (Enhanced Ground Proxity Warning Sensor) screaming "Terain! Pull up!".
Thank you once again to to Cpt. Puri for this incredible experience and for taking the time to chat with us about his 37 years of experience as a mountain flying pilot in Nepal.
As always, we're a new podcast with a lot to learn so send us your thoughts, comments and suggestions either by email (ground.effect[@]neustadt[.]fr) or via Twitter (@thegroundeffect).
Host: Parimal Satyal
Support and Original Artwork: Maggie Oran
Podcast Music: Getting It All Together by RockitMaxx