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Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One shot only!

There's this airstrip angled at a crazy 12 degrees. One side is a 2000ft canyon and the other a solid wall of rock. To land there you fly up a perilous gorge at exactly 9500ft AGL and then when a hug chunk of the cliff face appears on your right to have been carved out, you hit a right and line up with the top of the cliff.

If you are a mamba pilot you'll maintain a steady 9400ft and 95kts as you crest the cliff edge and then dropping gently down to 9200, you hit the deck and hurl your props into full reverse thrust and stop just short of the end of the runway. That's if you are a mamba pilot.

Yeti Air wasn't so mamba a year or two ago and hit the security fence on finals. 17 tourists perished.
Welcome to the Hillary-Tensing airfield in Lukla, Nepal.

If you survive the arrival, you can then head up the Khumbu Gorge on a leisurely stroll up to the Everest Basecamp....but that's another story.

Tonight at 17h00 Zulu time, we fly in 2 Twin Otters to Lukla. May the crazy gods be with us!
Meantime...check these movies out!

Flight Log RTW091111

Vic and I left Lambidada (VNLD) at 7h00 local time heading for Lukla (VNLK). Vic experienced some problems pre-takeoff, so I circled for some 20 minutes before we finally got airborn. Overall our coms and systems are working well. The extensive time spent on getting up to speed with the multiple parallel systems we need to operate in the virtual space has paid off as we are now able to rapidly troubleshoot any problems as they arise.

I prepped Vic with the correct approach and landing procedures for Lukla and he did a textbook landing, hitting the deck on the threshold and coming to a stop before the runway end.
Very impressive and shows that he has years of experience of real world aviation to draw on.

After some yak tea we found a gap in the rapid turnaround of Twotters (De Havilland Twin Otters) and headed back off down the valley to the closest field to Lambidada, really just to see some other part of the area. I found it hiding in the lee of a hill and making the drop in approach quite technical. Vic ended up landing back in Lambidada, lost but not abandoned!.

Few some hours it seems, we battled with sporadic technical and coms problems till I finally joined Vic back at Lambidada ad we decided to call it a day after one more half hour flight.
I thought it would be a great idea to head south, leave the great mountains behind and see the fotthills of the Himalayas which kind of melt into northern India.
The xxxx airforce base is exactly 30minutes by Pilatus form Lambidada and we headed off in great spirits. So great were my spirits that I clipped my left wheel on the ridge on take-off. An almighty thud alerted me to the mishap, but the PC12 just kept climbing so I figured all was well.
From the handling once I was up to speed I realized that I had damaged the left UC which now was unretracted, along with the nose wheel. I planned for a cautious and slow landing at xxxAB and good thing too, as the affected wheels just collapsed on landing leaving me with a well dug in nose and blocking the right side of the runway. Vic, needless to say made another textbook landing and slowly taxied past my nose down wreck waving like he was bloody Douglas Bader!
There and then we agreed to continue this journey of aviation delight and head on around the world, hopefully soon finding ourselves in controlled airspace to test our flying and coms mettle.

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