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Damxung Airport, Tibet's First Civil Airport

  • Source : China Tibet Online Author : Time : 07/02/2014 Editor : Tenzin Woebom

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      The flight crew of Damxung Airport take a group photo in the airport. [Photo/cpc.people.com.cn]


    When tourists walk into the Konggar Airport in Lhasa for the first time, many will mistakenly assume that it is the first airport in Tibet. Actually, Tibet's first civil airport is not Konggar Airport, instead, it is the Damxung Airport in the Damxung County of Lhasa.


    Built in 1955, the Damxung Airport was the world's highest airport at that time. Though, it has stepped down from the stage of history, it still created quite a stir of the period as a milestone.


    "The condition of Damxung Airport was much far behind the Konggar Airport built at present. There was only a one-way take-off and landing aircraft runway, which needed repair every two or three days, as well as no departure hall and few aviation infrastructure," recalled Ngawang Lozan, local herdsman who had witnessed the construction of Damxung Airport.


    It is recorded that due to the short supply in Tibet, it was unable to build a concert runway, and the building material can only be replaced with common stone. The whole runway covered a total length of 4,500 meters. Because of the bad weather, the great blowing wind and scattered stones always made it hard to land the airplane.




      Photo shows the Damxung Airport, first civil airport in Tibet. [Photo/cpc.people.com.cn]


    According to the records, there was even no telephone in the Damxung Airport. The civil aviation flight team of Beijing Administration used Ilyushin Il-18 at those days. The plane flied from Beijing to Chengdu, and must arrive at Damxung at the forenoon of the next day and left as soon as possible, because the strong wind in Damxung will blow after the midday, making the airport filled with stones.


    The earliest flights were not on a regular basis, and then it gradually became one flight every one month or half month. The ticket was quite hard to get.


    The staff of the Damxung Airport at that time lived in the simple bungalow built of iron sheet, enduring hot summer and cold winter. There was no electricity and telephone, and they could only use candle for light in the evening. The unique machine connecting with the outside world was radio station.


    The food was local Tibetan flour and a small amount of supplies given by the troops. The drinking water was needed to transport from the river valley a few miles away with asphalt barrels. In winter, people need to melt ice to get water for drinking.


    Now the Damxung Airport has been covered by vegetation, but its epoch-making significance stayed permanently. It opened the "forbidden area" whose high flight difficulty was recognized by the whole world, thus the air door of snow area opens.

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