Taking off from Lukla — the Himalayan airport with a runway slanting 11 degrees down the mountain and wreckage of crashed aircraft dotted along its sides — is unique.

We'd been locked in by bad weather for two days. When a gap appeared in the wind-swirled fog, the planes rolled in and we leapt aboard.

Our pilot ostentatiously raised his arm and put a baseball batter's glove on to his throttle hand. He then punched that sucker like Han Solo launching the Millennium Falcon, the engine howling as we blasted down the runway and dropped into the mist before roaring straight up, in search of clear sky. When we were flying level, he raised his hand and took off the glove.

It was a freaky experience, but — as always — we landed safely.

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