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ExWeb Everest Debrief: Over Everest
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Jul 2, 2004 14: 02 EST
Richard Meredith-Hardy (RMH), from the UK and Sicilian Angelo D’Arrigo had an idea to use a Microlight plane to tow a hang glider over Everest. This dream came true on the morning of May 24th. It wasn’t all easy though. At first the two couldn’t get the engine started, and even drained one battery in the process. Fortunately they brought a backup and the setup, with hang glider in tow, managed to take off from the Syangboche airport.

After circling for a few to gain altitude the two headed up the valley towards Everest, “We came round the corner of Nuptse at 21,000 ft, I could make out the yellow and blue specks of tents at Everest Base Camp below in the rubble of the Khumbu Glacier and my first sight up the Western Cwm was incredibly dramatic, probably the most striking sight of the whole flight.”

As they continued to rise, the towline snapped, and Richard, who was piloting the Microlight, lost sight of Angelo. Now Richard began to climb very well with nothing in tow. At 8.15 he flew right by the summit, “flew past two or three times too busy taking photos to really take it all in. On one pass I waved at the climbers and they waved back!”

At this point, Richard still didn’t know what happened to Angelo, and it was time to turn around. On the way back he had to deal with a frozen throttle that fortunately became unstuck just before landing.

Angelo was still missing and and they started to make preparations for a search helicopter. Fortunately, Angelo ended up landing near Lobuche, and was airlifted by helicopter the next day.

Two years of preparation went into this expedition. Before heading up to the Khumbu for their flight, the duo had to deal with lots of paper work in Kathmandu – they had to cargo in everything, planes included. Also, they had to fill their own O2 cylinders in Kathmandu and seek out good fuel, as the Microlight’s engine is a bit fickle.

Angelo d'Arrigo just sent ExplorersWeb some fantastic pictures from his point of view. The two are planning on writing a book about the expedition.

A European duo set out to fly over Everest, one guy in a Microlight pulling the other in a hang glider. The pilot of the Microlight is Richard Meredith-Hardy (RMH), from the UK. Sicilian Angelo D’Arrigo is the man in tow; Richard has previously pulled him on other flights. This Everest expedition also involves a study of the migratory route of the Steppe Eagles (Aquila Nealensis). Where the duo is flying is on the line of the bird’s migratory route.

Image of the flight, courtesy of the team.

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