Why Planes Don’t Fly Over Himalayas

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Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the tallest
mountain on the planet from an airplane window? Just imagine yourself nestled in your seat,
sipping on a coffee and admiring that snow covered mountain peak! The only problem is that planes don’t fly
over Mount Everest, or the Himalayan range, for that matter. But why? To answer this troubling question, let’s imagine
a scheduled commercial flight which, out of the blue, decides to fly over the Himalayas. At first, the flight is going smoothly: the
plane reaches its usual cruising altitude of 35,000 feet and is traveling at a speed
of about 550 miles per hour. Soon, the pilots see a range of tall mountains
straight ahead, with one peak standing out among the rest. It’s the world-famous Everest – the highest
mountain above sea level on the whole planet! Its height is a monstrous 29,000 feet, and
it keeps growing by one-tenth of an inch every year! See ,there it goes! Anyway, the pilots aren’t even a bit concerned
about having to fly over the peak: after all, the plane has more than 6,000 feet to spare. But once the aircraft has reached Everest
and is moving over it, the pilots realize they shouldn’t have been so careless! Because that’s when everything goes awry! Suddenly, everybody on board hears a loud
bang, and the terrified cockpit crew immediately recognizes the signs of sudden decompression! There might have been a problem with the pressurization
system; one of the doors could have been sealed incorrectly; or there could have been a crack
in a window or the fuselage. Whatever the reason for the emergency, the
crew has to react immediately! Passengers on this plane were paying attention
to the pre-flight safety demonstration before the plane took off. That’s why they immediately put oxygen masks
over their mouths and noses and try to keep calm. The cockpit crew, on the other hand, is close
to panic. The problem is that there isn’t as much oxygen
in your mask as you might think. It usually lasts for no more than 15 to 20
minutes. And you can probably imagine the consequences
of running out of oxygen at an altitude of 35,000 feet. (Spoiler: it’s… not good.) That’s why the pilots must make the plane
drop down to 10,000 feet, where the passengers will be able to breathe without using oxygen
masks. But… the plane is still flying over the
Himalayas, and there’s no way it could drop so low! I’d better just end the story right now, before
something terrible happens to our passenger jet and all the travelers inside. I think you’ve got the idea. But you should know that the inability to
lower the plane in the case of rapid decompression isn’t the only thing preventing aircraft from
flying over Everest. One of the reasons planes have such an impressive
cruising altitude is that it lets pilots have some “room for error.” It means that if something goes wrong, the
captain can glide the aircraft while trying to fix the problem. But you can’t do much if you have a mere 6,000
feet to spare, right? On top of that, if an emergency landing is
unavoidable, pilots simply won’t be able to find an easily accessible airport nearby! Admittedly, Kathmandu can deal with a jet,
but this airport has only one runway and doesn’t have an instrumental landing system. And finally, if you’ve ever flown over the
mountains, you probably know that turbulence above them is nothing but nasty. Winds moving over mountain ranges at high
speeds create so-called “mountain waves” which can turn any ride into a rough one. And while turbulence isn’t dangerous per se,
airlines still try to plan their routes around mountainous areas if possible. And speaking of the Himalayas, the turbulence
there is so bad that it’s almost impossible for commercial airplanes to fly over that
region. Have you ever experienced severe turbulence
while flying over the mountains? Share your stories in the comment section
below! Anyway, if you take into consideration all
these factors, it becomes crystal clear why it’s both safer and easier for airplanes to
avoid the Himalayas altogether. But this mountainous region isn’t the only
place pilots dislike. How about I tell you about some of the most
dangerous airports in the world? – Those who decide to visit Mount Everest
usually arrive at the Lukla Airport in Nepal. But not all the visitors know that this airport
is one of the world’s trickiest. Pilots find it extremely difficult to land
there because the airport is nestled between high mountains. On top of that, it has a terrifyingly short
runway. And since the terminal building itself has
no lights or electric power, it’s impossible to land there if the conditions aren’t perfect. – Another airport that will chill your blood
is also situated in the mountains. It’s Toncontin Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Due to a short approach and difficult terrain,
planes must make a lightning-fast 45-degree bank turn during the descent. After this, aircraft must drop in altitude
immediately; otherwise, they might scrape the hills right underneath. – There are only 8 pilots in the world who
are qualified to land at Paro Airport in Bhutan, Himalayan Mountains. The runway of the airport is a mere 6,500
ft long and is surrounded by 18,000 ft-tall peaks. Planes have to make an extremely quick descent
to approach the airstrip safely, hence the airport’s high ranking among the most dangerous
airports of the world. – Landing at the airport on the Portuguese
island, Madeira, remains one of the most treacherous feats in aviation, even after its runway was
renovated. The thing is that the landing strip of this
airport is located right on the shore of the ocean, between steep cliffs. Originally, the runway was only 5,250 ft. After being extended several times, the airstrip
of Madeira Airport is now 9,124 ft, but it’s not your usual runway. Because of the lack of space, engineers suggested
building a series of runway platforms on an artificial island. It was constructed right in the ocean, with
180 columns holding it up. – The runway of Narsarsuaq Airport, in Greenland,
is constantly covered with ice. On top of that, the airstrip itself is only
about 6,000 ft long. But that’s not all! The weather in that region is always stormy,
which creates severe turbulence and adds to low visibility. Violent winds hit the plane, and this, along
with the icy airstrip, can easily direct the aircraft off course. What’s more, there’s an active volcano nearby. It often erupts, sending clouds of perilous
ash in the air. If it gets inside the engines, it can destroy
them, which could lead to a crash. No wonder both airplane crews and passengers
dread landing at this airport. Whew, sounds like fun, huh? – There are no mountains around Gibraltar
International Airport; the runway isn’t that short; and, in general, it’s not particularly
hard for a plane to land there. But there is one feature which sets this airport
apart and makes it totally unique: the main street of that area, Winston Churchill Avenue,
intersects the runway! That’s why the road must be closed every time
a plane is going to land or take off. Of course, there’s a stoplight on the road
that informs cars when it’s time to stop, but still, there’ve been several close calls
during the airport’s history. I wonder if there’s a stoplight for the
planes too? – If you ever go to St. Maarten Island in
the Caribbean, you’re likely to be completely smitten with its Princess Juliana Airport. It’s one of the most famous airports in the
world, thanks to a public beach located right before the runway! However, landing aircraft create deafening
noise and powerful gusts of wind which blow sand toward beachgoers. But that’s not what pilots have to worry about. Cockpit crews have another problem on their
hands: being just 7,150 ft long, the airstrip is too short for large aircraft to feel comfortable
while landing. Normally, they require at least 8,200 ft. So they just, what, throw out an anchor to
stop? I’d pay to see that. Hey, if you learned something new today, then
give the video a like and share it with a friend! And here are some other videos I think you’ll
enjoy. Just click to the left or right, and remember:
stay on the Bright Side of life!

 

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