Don’t panic in Paro

with 3 comments

eye to eye with the HimalayasParo Airport in the Himalayan country of Bhutan is “one of the world’s most challenging airports” according to Boeing.

And if it’s challenging for the pilots, it’s anything from an adventure to a nightmare for the passengers.

Only one airline flies into Paro: Bhutan’s national carrier DRUK AIR. In their in-flight magazine, they write that they’ve offered the route to other airlines, but that no other dared to fly into this extremely difficult airport.

Paro airport is at the end of a deep Himalayan valley.

follow that valleyTo land there, the pilot has to follow the meandering valley for  miles and miles, tracing every turn of the river below.

All the while, the pilot  gradually has to bring the aircraft down lower and lower and be careful not to scrape the mountains on either side of the plane.

When we flew into Paro this morning, the first officer even warned the passengers that the descent would be a little rough. He said due to the winter weather, turbulences were likely.

A chance to greet the natives

A chance to greet the natives

So in addition to the Himalayian mountains nearly touching the tips of your wings on both sides, this time our plane also got shaken pretty violently.

Landing at Paro is nothing for the faint hearted – especially at this time of year.

This is the only airport I know where I think it might be justified to applaud the pilot after a successful landing.

Written by Thorsten

February 28, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Posted in travel

Tagged with , , , , , ,

3 Responses

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  1. This is so disheartening. I have read about Bhutan and would love to visit, but I don’t think I would mentally survive a flight like that.

    Kateri Jochum

    March 8, 2009 at 12:48 am

  2. Thorsten, I find your blog interesting, especially about Bhutan, maybe because I am a Bhutanese. I did hear about rough landing at Paro airport, but in my experience of flying with Druk Air several times in my life, I haven’t experienced a single rough landing so far.
    @kateri, the landing is not always rough and our pilots are experts in landing in mountainous areas. You will land safely.


    April 27, 2011 at 10:48 am

    • You’re right, I guess the DRUK Air pilots are among the best in the world. They have to be in order to land at Paro. Every time I landed there, things were handled very professionally. But it was always an adventure. And in some cases, our departure from Bangkok to Paro was delayed considerably due to bad weather conditions in Bhutan.
      In any case, I hope I’ll have a chance to come back to Bhutan some time soon. It’s always worth the trip.


      April 27, 2011 at 11:03 am

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