Lukla Airport,also known as Tenzing–Hillary Airport , is a small airport in the town of Lukla,in Khumbu, Solukhumbu District, Province No. 1, eastern Nepal. A program titled Most Extreme Airports, broadcast on The History Channel in 2010, rated the airport as the most dangerous airport in the world for more than 20 years.
The airport is popular because Lukla is the place where most people start the climb to Mount Everest Base Camp. There are daily flights between Lukla and Kathmandu during daylight hours in good weather. Although the flying distance is short, rain commonly occurs in Lukla while the sun is shining brightly in Kathmandu. High winds, cloud cover, and changing visibility often mean flights can be delayed or the airport closed. The airport is contained within a chain-link fence and patrolled by the Nepali armed police or civil police around the clock.
The airport was built in 1964 under the supervision of Edmund Hillary, who originally intended to build the airport on flat farmlands. However, local farmers did not want to give up their land, so the airport was built at its current position. Hillary bought the land from local Sherpas for US$2,650 and involved them in building the facilities. It has been said that Hillary was unhappy with the runway’s soil resistance, and that his solution was to buy local liquor for the Sherpas and ask them to perform a foot-stomping dance to flatten the land that served as the runway. The runway was not paved until 2001.
In January 2008, the airport was renamed in honor of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first people confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest, and also to mark their efforts in the construction of this airport. The airport’s paved asphalt runway is accessible only to helicopters and small, fixed-wing, short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft such as the De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, Dornier Do 228, L-410 Turbolet and Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter. The runway is 527 m (1,729 ft) × 30 m (98 ft) with an 11.7% gradient. The airport’s elevation is 9,334 ft (2,845 m). The airport is used for passenger flights and for transporting most of the building materials and cargo to Lukla and other towns and villages to the north of Lukla, as there is no road to this region.