By Tom Dare
INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE from 85 years ago showing how two Brits became the first people to successfully complete a flight over the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, has remerged this week, on the 85th anniversary of the historic feat being accomplished.
The video, taken shortly before and during the flight on April 3rd, 1933, shows pilots Lieutenant David McIntrye and Sir Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (The Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale) strapping into their Westland planes before taking off from Nepal to undertake the flight, which would take them higher than any person had been in history up to that point.
Further footage from the video show the peaks of the Himalayan mountains as McIntrye and Hamilton soared above them, before finally taking in the north east ridge of the mountain that had taken climbers to the summit before. They then glide over the summit itself before heading back down toward ground.
When the two aviators first thought up the idea of flying over Everest they were told by several experts that it would be years, possibly even a century, before aeroplanes would be ready to conduct such a flight. With an open cabin, there was no respite from the issues of air pressure, oxygen or altitude, with the pilots being completely exposed to the elements.
The plan from the outset had been to film the flight for the purposes of a geographical survey, meaning that both McIntyre and Hamilton piloted their own planes over the summit. Designs for the planes took around 15 years to finalise and each only cleared the summit by a matter of feet, with a downwind forcing the aircraft too close to the top for comfort. Speaking after the flight, Hamilton said:
“After 30 minutes’ flying we passed over Forbesganj [in India], our forward emergency landing ground forty miles from Purnea,” he said.
“And, at a height of 19,000 feet, Everest first became visible above the haze.”