Friday, December 30, 2011

Only Eight Pilots Are Qualified to Land on This ‘Terrifying’ Runway

From The Blaze/Yahoo News: Only Eight Pilots Are Qualified to Land on This ‘Terrifying’ Runway
There is a small airport in the Himalayan mountains with a 6,500-foot runway and picturesque surroundings. When flying into Paro Airport in Bhutan passengers may be staring in terrified awe of the 18,000-foot mountainous peaks or have their eyes squeezed tightly shut as the pilot weaves through the range.

But only eight pilots are qualified to fly into Paro. And up until earlier this year, only one airline serviced the airport. The Daily Mail reports that take off and landing can only take place in daylight hours:

The runway is just 6,500 feet long – one of the few in the world shorter than their elevation above sea level.

Planes have to weave through the dozens of houses that are scattered across the mountainside – coming within feet of clipping the roofs.

Strong winds whip through the valleys, often resulting in severe turbulence. Passengers who have been on flights to the airport have described the landing as ‘terrifying’.

Up until July, the Daily Mail reports, Druk Air was the only airline flying into the airport, which Boeing has said is “one of the world’s most difficult for takeoffs and landings.” Buddha Air also serves the facility, which takes in about 30,000 people each year.

In 2009, the airport was named by Travel Leisure the number 1 most dangerous airport in the world. Also making the list were the International Airport of Princess Juliana, St.Martin, Reagan National Airport, Washington DC, and Airport of Gibraltar.

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