Tuesday, April 3, 2012
April 3, 1933, a British expedition team makes the first airplane flight over Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain standing over 29,000 feet. Upon receiving word of suitable conditions from the Everest Expedition scout plane and meteorologists, the two crews consisting of a pilot and an observer, quickly make their way from the waiting area to Lalbalu airfield at Purnea, in Bihar Province in northeast India. One of the observers is Gaumont British News cinematographer S.R. Bonnett. The expedition team successfully flies 500 feet above the summit of Mount Everest and the historical event is captured on film. However, they are not pleased with the photographs so the team makes a second flight over the mountain on April 19, this time capturing good enough footage for analysis and a historical record of the achievement.
Last week, Slovenian pilot Matevz Lenarcic flew a modified aircraft 29,344 feet above the Himalayas. Although Lenarcic did not fly directly over the summit of Mount Everest, he reached an altitude of approximately 300 feet above that of the mountain’s highest peak. According to a press release, due to Lenarcic’s difficulty receiving a permit to fly over Everest from Nepalese authorities, news of the pilot’s flight was not released until one day later. Lenarcic reported on his blog that after a period where “visibility was again very poor, mountains were hiding in the clouds, heavy traffic in the air, and bad communication was present”; he eventually saw a window of opportunity where conditions were conducive to make the difficult flight. Lenarcic is currently on a mission to circumnavigate the globe. He has been to all seven continents and will return home next month.