Watch a helicopter land on the summit of Everest

I wouldn’t have believed it possible, having flown small planes at one time. The air is so thin at 29,035 feet that there’s practically nothing for propellers or wings to bite in to to remain airborne. My old Cessna’s service ceiling was 12,000 feet. Still the folks at Europcopter did it, and you can read more here. From there, you can watch the video.

Only 10 years ago, it was considered insane to attempt a landing even in the comparatively dense air 10,000 feet below the summit at one of the climbers’ base camps. Helicopter pilots made rescue attempts there a few times,, and not all of them survived the effort. It’s hard to believe aeronautical science has come so far in so little time. This breakthrough makes summit and high-altitude rescues more of a possibility anywhere in the world.

The article states that the pilot, in keeping with the local aviation laws, touched down for 2 minutes on the summit. Don’t be fooled by the sentence which reads, “Stepping out of his helicopter, Didier Delsalle commented: ‘To reach this mythical summit definitively seemed to be a dream…’ ” I envisioned the pilot parking his helicopter on the summit and stepping out for a nice walkabout, which seemed preposterous, even suicidal. The winds would likely blow the aircraft away immediately!

After watching the video, and re-reading the piece, I realized that Mr. Delsalle was making his comments after he returned to base camp. At the summit, he hovered while his aircraft grazed the ground for two minutes. The video, while in French, contains very cool footage of the actual touchdown, seen from underside of the helicopter, looking at the landing gear on the summit. It was a surprise to see how small Everest’s peak looks, perhaps 10 to 12 feet in diameter, then The Big Dropoff. Anyway, it’s worth a minute or three to watch.

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