Friday, April 4, 2014

Day 64 - Nepal: Scariest & most dangerous flight in the world from Kathmandu to Lukla

I have already tackled one of the top-rated scariest flights in the world into Pato, Bhutan.

Next up is a flight into Lukla, Nepal - a short, uphill runway with the number of accidents common enough that I don't want to know the data.

(Photo: Allan Grey) 

There were 16 of us who boarded the tiny plane - with me as the 2nd to last person to board. I had a choice of a seat in the aisle (1 on 1 side and 2 on the other) in the first row behind the open pilot area or a window 'emergency exit' seat in the way back. I chose the latter.

For those who don't know one of my hidden secrets, but I am frightfully afraid of flying. So, of course, I immediately regretted my seat decision, remembering how the last rows of planes are always the 'death seats' if something goes wrong.  But then after examining the size of the plane, I realized if something happens, we're all going down, not just me in the back row. This oddly assured me.

About 10 minutes into the flight, the stewardess leans over to me and said,
"Do you have any hesitations about this flight?" 

Well, as a matter of fact, I am scared shitless, I thought. And then I realized, perhaps she's talking to me because I'm sitting in the emergency exit row. Well, its a bit late to decide if I'm equipped to sit in the emergency exit row because, yes, I'm pissing myself right now, and will be of no use in case of a crisis, my monologue in my head ensued.

After a period of sitting with my silent thoughts and her staring at me, she finally said, "you can put your comments on this card if you do."

So, maybe I was a tad-bit on edge! I had a little laugh at myself, sat back and enjoyed the view. The Himalayas came into sight, and the stewardess pointed to the different mountains, stating their names, inviting me to lean over her lap to take photos.

All was going rather pleasantly until we started descending and we hit a wind pocket. "Oh shit!" I said aloud and I grabbed the stewardess's hand and held on to it for a good minute until finally I realized I can't continue holding her hand the whole flight. She just smiled with amusement.

5 minutes later the emergency exit door to the right of me started rattling. I started to look up at her with dread, and she creeped her hands nearer to the left to protect them from my death hold, and said, "Its OK." as if its normal for a door to pop in and out mid-flight. But immediately I was distracted by the sight through the pilot's window of the runway on the side of the mountain quickly approaching us. I was comforted by the clear visibility and before I knew it, we landed with a thud and a whirl of noise and a sharp right turn away from the wall in front of us.

The stewardess made some sort of genuflection, reminding me of the catholic sign of the cross. Yikes, even she's grateful we landed. she probably thinks we are going to go down every time she boards the plane!

But, I survived. Here's a video someone else posted on YouTube to get an idea of the flight. (Picture this but with brown and snow covered mountains.)

NEXT STOP: Slow hike up to Everest Basecamp by March 17th.

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