Houston–Mount Everest flight expedition

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The first Mount Everest flight expedition was undertaken by Sir Douglas Douglas-Hamilton and David McIntyre in April 1933.[1] They took off on an open cabin flight at 8:25 am from Lalbalu Airfield and returned at 11:30  marking it as the first successful flight.[2][3][4][5] It was financed by Lady Houston and organized by Stewart Blacker.[6] The aircraft were shipped to Karachi in a boat and flown to Purnea. It set milestones for developments in technology, aviation and photography.[6]

Background[edit]

The idea for a flight expedition over the Mount Everest was proposed in 1918 by a British mountaineering physiologist, Alexander Kellas in his journal “The Possibility of Aerial Reconnaissance in the Himalaya.”[6] Douglas-Hamilton was the youngest squadron leader in the Royal Air Force who was also Lord Clydesdale, born to Alfred, 13th Duke of Hamilton.[1][7] He commanded 602 Squadron and was the Chief Pilot of the Houston Mount Everest Flying Expedition. Lieutenant David Fowler McIntyre was also of 602 Squadron.[1]

Aircraft[edit]

The aircraft used in the expedition were the original Westland PV-6, (prototype of the Westland Wallace bomber), registered G-ACBR (and also known as the Houston-Wallace), along with the modified Westland PV-3, registered G-ACAZ. Both aircraft were modified with enclosed observer positions, but retained open pilot cockpits and were also equipped with oxygen systems and facilities for heated flying clothing.

Expeditions[edit]

Observer Lieutenant Colonel Latham Valentine Stewart Blacker accompanied Lord Clydesdale and Sidney R. G. Bonnett, a cinematographer for Gaumont British News accompanied McIntyre.[1] Bonnett, however lost consciousness due to hypoxia upon damaging his oxygen mask.[8] The planes carried supplies to last 15 minutes over the mountains with inbuilt heating. The expeditors were dressed in multilayers of sheepskin clothing.[9]

The first expedition could not obtain clear photographs because of dust. They made another attempt on April 19, 1933, the pictures of which assisted Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to the top of Mount Everest.[9]

The camera used was a Williamson Automatic Eagle III which took photographs of the surface at specific intervals as the airplanes flew over known survey locations with the aim of obtaining a photographic mosaic of the terrain and an accurate map.[9] The photographs of the expedition were made public in 1951.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Houston Mount Everest Flying Expedition Archives - This Day in Aviation". This Day in Aviation. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  2. ^ a b Heggie, Vanessa (2013-04-03). "The first flight over Everest: a physiologist's dream | Vanessa Heggie". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  3. ^ Arbuckle, Alex. "The first men to fly over Mount Everest did so in an unpressurized biplane". Mashable. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  4. ^ "The 1933 Houston Everest Flight". www.content-delivery.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  5. ^ "Over Everest; aeroplanes". www.flymicro.com. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  6. ^ a b c Heggie, Vanessa (2013-04-03). "The first flight over Everest: a physiologist's dream | Vanessa Heggie". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  7. ^ Sawer, Patrick (2014-05-11). "Grandson of first man to fly over Everest takes up a world beating challenge of his own". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  8. ^ Heggie, Vanessa (2013-04-03). "The first flight over Everest: a physiologist's dream | Vanessa Heggie". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  9. ^ a b c "First Person: My Uncle Was First to Fly Over Everest". 2013-04-19. Retrieved 2018-07-05.