Lukla Airport, which is officially known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport, is in the Khumbu region of Eastern Nepal. Since it serves the Everest area, it is named after the first two men to conquer the peak, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Trekkers and climbers who come to the Everest region fly into Lukla.
Lukla's runway is only 1,700 feet long, and it has an 11 percent slope. That's only long enough to accommodate small passenger aircraft. It's not the lack of size that's the most extreme aspect of Lukla — it's the surroundings. Because of the elevation (more than 9,000 feet), high winds and cloud cover often force the airport to close the runway altogether. No landing aids are available for pilots, who have only one shot at getting it right. The surrounding mountain slopes make it impossible to circle back for a second landing attempt. Takeoffs are even more challenging because the plane has to gather speed while going downhill. There's no room to abort because of the sheer drop-off at the end of the runway.