Leonardo, March 28, 2017 - In Notwithstanding extreme conditions, the AW119Kx rescued 2 passengers in Gora Shep.
The helicopter was prepped and ready to fly at 07.00 but due to low visibility at Kathmandu Airport, the flight was delayed by one hour. At 08.00 sharp the helicopter took off for Lukla airport with a full load of passengers and fuel.
The flight to Lukla was daunting, with large sections of dense clouds: the AW119Kx reached Lukla airport in 50 minutes. At Lukla, some of the passengers were dropped off and then we proceeded to Namche (11,700 ft).
In Namche, a rescue call was received for two people stranded in Gora Shep (16,150 ft), so the pilots decided to proceed to pick up the two passengers on an unexpected mission, given that the helicopter was quite heavy due to the fuel on board. Furthermore the weather suddenly changed and Gora Shep began experiencing strong winds of 24 knots. Notwithstanding the extreme conditions, the AW119Kx reached Gora Shep and managed to pick up the two passengers who were brought back safely to Lukla.
The news of the AW119Kx’s good performance spread alongside the strong winds and shortly after another rescue request reached the Koala.
Enroute to Upper Lobuche (16,200 ft), the helicopter dropped off some of its passengers in Namche and managed to rescue two people (an elderly woman and her daughter) from Upper Lobuche, which was also experiencing strong cross winds of about 25 knots.
On the return flight to Lukla an additional passenger was picked up from Namche. The onsite team learned that due to the strong winds, two other helicopters tried but had failed to land in Upper Lobuche before the mission was given to the AW119Kx.
The four rescued passengers from Gora Shep and Upper Lobuche were transported from Lukla back to Kathmandu. Subsequently, another flight from Kathmandu to Lukla was carried out, and the return to Kathmandu was completed in a swift 40 minutes notwithstanding the dense clouds encountered again enroute.