Dangerous Nepal Flight

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January 16th 2023
Published: January 16th 2023
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From the AP:

Home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, Nepal has a history of air crashes. According to the Safety Matters Foundation's data, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal since 1946. Six-eight died yesterday in the crash of the Yeti Air lfight.

The country’s “hostile topography” and “diverse weather patterns” were the major challenges, according to a 2019 safety report from Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority, also resulting in a “number of accidents” to small aircraft. The report said such accidents happened at airports that had short strips of runway for takeoff and landing and most were due to pilot error.

Yesterday's crash is yet another chapter in Nepal's poor track record. Their planes are not allowed to fly into the EU!!!

Here are some brief notes I made when we were in Katmandu, waiting to fly over Mount Everest:

We spent the majority of the second day trying to get a flight over to Mount Everest. It was called Buddha Air, with small 20 seat planes, that took tourists on a 90 minute flight to and over the big mountain. A persistent fog kept us waiting for several hours. When it finally lifted, I think we grabbed the last two seats on the little puddle jumper of an airplane. Needless to say, Everest was magnificent on a beautiful blue-sky day. It was worth the wait, in a huge, totally disorganized waiting room, with only tea and biscuits for purchase.

Looking back on this little adventure, I do not think we were aware of the danger or the poor flight record of the small, local air carriers. But looking back at the little inter-Nepal terminal, it was nothing more than an old hangar, converted into a waiting area. One small stand sold hot tea and some local tea cakes. The toilets were also rather primitive. Very few announcements were made.

We were told to wait, stay in the terminal, and an agent would find us when our flight was ready to leave. As the flights and people started to leave, several hours later, an agent found us and told us to quickly board.
We noticed we were on the plane with a group of Japanese tourists, who did not bother to use seat belts, or sit down during the flight. They were so taken with seeing Everest, the plane would lean one way or another based on where the great mountain could be seen from the left or right of the plane. Then, rather surprisingly, the captain said we could take turns and view Everest from the cockpit!!
After yesterday's plane crash and the recount of airline safety statistics in Nepal, I realize how fortunate we were to survive that day. I think you can see from the photos that our decision to fly over Everest was probably not very wise!


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