An aerial view of Wushan Airport under construction in southwestern China. Photo: Xinhua
An aerial view of Wushan Airport under construction in southwestern China. Photo: Xinhua

Rugged mountains in the county of Wushan, a reclusive backwater under the jurisdiction of the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, have been flattened for a 2,600-meter runway plus an apron and a control tower of a new airport there, which literally straddles the magnificent, 1,200-meter-deep Qutang Gorge of the Yangtze River.

Construction of the awe-inspiring Wushan Airport, at an elevation of 1,771 meters, is gathering pace for inauguration early next year, after constructors managed to fill some 40 karst caves and erect concrete supporting pillars several hundred meters in height on an undulating site, according to Xinhua.

When viewed from above, the airstrip resembles the shape of a colossal aircraft carrier.

The runway is built on a platform of leveled mountains. Photo: Xinhua
The airport has an elevation of 1,771 meters and is usually shrouded in clouds. Photo: People’s Daily
The end of the runway is also the edge of a cliff above the Qutang Gorge of the Yangtze River. Photo: People’s Daily

The project is meant to boost connections in the region and spur tourism to save visitors from the hassle and fatigue of hours of bus journeys along meandering roads to the scenic county.

When it is finished, a one-hour hop on a plane from Chongqing could turn out to be a one-of-a-kind journey offering not only panoramic vistas of the renowned Three Gorges – one of which is Qutang – of the Yangtze River but also the unique experience of landing on a runway atop mountains that are usually shrouded in mist and clouds.

It is also said that Wushan Airport will be a key intermediate airbase for the Chinese air force for marshaling troops and warplanes further westward to respond to any emergency in the southwest as well as along the Tibetan-Indian border.