7 summits by Microlight

Home
Talks & presentations
 
Latest news
25 Oct 2006 FAI Gold Air medal
1 Dec 2005, Aconcagua expedition
4 Feb 2005, RAeC Awards
16 Dec, RAeC Britannia Trophy
1 Jan 2005, 3rd place Best of ExplorersWeb 2004 Awards
1 June, Home
22 May, Fog again
23 May, Hollywood
24 May, Full story
24 May, Summited!
21 May, Nearly
20 May, Rain
19 May, Flora
18 May, Smelly socks
16 May, Line break
17 May
15 May, A narrow escape
14 May, Fog
13 May, Camp life
12 May, Runway repairs
11 May, Yaks, Naks & Jopkyoks
10 May, Syangboche
9 May, fog
8 May, Everest in sight!
19 Apr, Pokhara
23 Apr, Oxygen
26 Apr, Lukla
5 May, Still Lukla
6 May, We have fuel!
Apr 25, Kathmandu
30 Mar, Kit despatched
6 Mar 25,280 ft
3 Mar Hypobaric test
5 Mar Guidonia
31 Jan
 
Weather
Weather maps
Daily forecasts
 
R and D
Cold test
Glider development
Trike development
 
History
RMH pilot CV
Chronology of Everest aviation
Gliders
Aeroplanes
Emil Wick
Microlights
Lukla airfield
Mingbo airfield
Balloons
Hang gliders and Paragliders


(UTC + 5:45)
2-1

Lukla airfield

Sir Edmund Hillary describes in his book “View from the Summit” how the airfield at Lukla was built.

In 1964 I was in the Khumbu again with Jim Wilson, Peter Muigrew and quite a large group of our Himalayan Trust members. I had noticed that below Chaunrikarka there was a large area of almost flat land pushing out into a curve of the Dudh Kosi. I asked Jim Wilson to investigate it and he reported that it just might do, but that it was barely long enough and also very fertile land, so that the local people might be understandably reluctant to sell. Then Jim had a rather amazing experience. He was approached by a group of farmers from the small village of Lukla, which was located in a small tributary valley at 9,000 feet. They had some land for sale and thought it would be suitable for an airfield. They even suggested that the wind always blew in the right direction! How hill people who knew nothing about airfields could possibly make this sort of judgement I do not know, but when we went up to Lukla we agreed that they were right. And best of all we wouldn’t be destroying a lot of arable land. One third was in rough pasture, one third in heavy scrub and the last third in terraced potato fields. It certainly wasn’t flat, the rise from bottom to top was over a hundred feet, but this wouldn’t be a problem to a STOL (short take-off or landing) aircraft. Even the negotiations for the land were relatively easy. I purchased it on behalf of the Nepalese government for a total of $635 — quite a substantial sum in that area in those days.

We had no mechanical equipment, of course, so everything had to be done by hand. Mingma recruited more than a hundred Sherpas and with kukris and mattocks they cut down the bush, dug out the roots and levelled the land. The terraced potato fields required a vast amount of earth moving, and there were some huge boulders that we were unable to lift. Instead we used the method pioneered by the Sherpas on the Mingbo airfield. We dug huge holes and then rolled the rocks into them and covered them up with earth.

And the first landing:

The first Pilatus Porter flight was fast approaching, but I was still not entirely happy with the top surface of the field which was rather soft. I decided to use a simple but practical method to improve this. Sherpa dancing is very vigorous and involves much stamping of the feet. We purchased large quantities of chang and then employed fifty Sherpas to link arms and stamp their way backwards and forwards across the field. A very festive mood prevailed and the earth received a most resounding thumping. Two days of this rather reduced the Sherpas’ enthusiasm for the dance but produced a firm and smooth surface for our airfield. The strip was 1,150 feet long and 100 feet wide and was clearly marked by white painted boards. Altogether I had paid out just over $2,000 for land and labour.

No doubt with memories of Mingbo airfield two Civil Aviation representatives were coming in as observers on the new airfield’s first flight and their judgement would be final. It was the sharp ears of a Sherpa who first heard the aircraft coming up the valley and we hastily removed all the children and cows off the runway. I admit to feeling rather tense as the Pilatus Porter circled overhead. Then the plane wheeled, its flaps came down and it swung in to the bottom of the strip. The wheels touched with a puff of dust and next moment it was rolling up the airfield and came to a rapid halt. It took full power for the plane to taxi to the top of the runway and then we were welcoming the clearly delighted crew and passengers. I had an enormous feeling of pleasure and relief. Lukia quickly became the busiest mountain airfield in Nepal and the gateway to Everest.

THE NORTH FACE clothing for extreme conditions
 
 
The FIAT group
 
 
ICARO 2000 Hang Gliding World Champion
 
 
ALPHA emergency parachute
 
 
O-ZEE flight suits.  Suppliers of Bar-mitts to the expedition.
 
 
PEGASUS AVIATION manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
 
 
PARAMINA; Suppliers of Oxygen equipment to the expedition
 
 
SKYDRIVE, the UK Distributor of ROTAX engines
 
 
BAILEY AVIATION manufacturers of Paramotors and automotive sport acessories
 
 
AdventureWeather.com providing Meteorological information to the expedition
 
 
Articole Studios - GRP mouldings
 
 
Mainair Sports; UK dealer for Warp Drive Propellors
 
 
MAINAIR SPORTS  manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
 
 
Lyndhurst Touchdown Services.  Supplier of fuel system components to the expedition.
 
 
Industrial Pressure Testing Ltd; Suppliers of Oxygen cylinders to the expedition.
 
 
Neltec flexible heaters
 
 
FLYCOM Intercom and Radio equipment
 
 
Quatar airways
 
 
Gerbings heated clothing
 
 
menu2 2-2 3-2 4-2 sponsors-2
Page last reviewed
4 Jan 2004
2-3 Contact   RMH      info@angelodarrigo.com 4-3