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The Helicopter on Everest: Climbers sound off!



Several reader have sounds off on their opinion about this. Here is some of the opinions.


Reader's e-mail: It is fantastic that a helicopter can reach the top now.


How much extra weight can be hauled that high is the real mystery.  Could supplies be dropped off, such as oxygen bottles?  Could people be carried that high, or rescued from that high?


Tourist helicopters to the top might cut down on the deaths of people that are marginal climbers, and increase greatly the amount of people that get to enjoy the view.  It is terrible that some people will see that as a bad thing.


Are there other times in the year when the wind is low for a few hours and a helicopter could visit the top but it is not practical for climbers?  This might expand the days that the view can be enjoyed.


As I understand it, Didier Delsalle did not exit the helicopter while at the summit.  He sat in the machine with only one part of the machine lightly resting on the snow, but most of the weight still supported by the rotating blades.  The video shows the heli copter 'touching' the summit, but not really settled on it firmly.


Reader's e-mail: I have a problem with the video. It does not look to me like they made a full, solid landing. Also, it seems odd that there is nothing showing Didier Delsalle stepping out of the copter. I would think that would be something they would have insisted on filming or photographing.


Is it right to land on Everest? Perhaps for rescue purposes, but, do the risks outweigh the benefit? Well this open up the summit to those who will pay to land on it just to say they stood on the top of the world? Bad idea.


I believe the video is genuine but a "landing" I my book would involve no thrust to the engines...This appears to be a touch and go to prove the helicopter's capability to almost shut down at such an altitude given a landing area. The test to 33,000 ft is the real feat here, and by no means is this to me a qualified "assent" of Everest.


Reader's e-mail: Whilst it may deplete the guide incomes, a lot of the people currently attempting to climb the hill will opt to fly there instead I think that it would take a lot of strain of the mountain climbing routes. This in turn will make it easier for those who really want to climb the mountain, as opposed to just stand on the top. It will – if you like – separate the “sightseers” from the real adventurers.

Thanks for the site – it’s been exciting to follow.

Reader's e-mail: I do not think that flying to the summit is a good thing.  Although rescues from high altitude are now more possible, that alone takes away from the risk and sense of accomplishment that successful summiters must feel.   If you minimize the risk (via rescue choppers) you open up the mountain to even more inexperienced climbers who really have no business being there.  If sightseeing tours to the summit via chopper are allowed then climbers will have to specify they CLIMBED to the summit, they will no longer be identified as the elite simply by saying they summitted.


Thank you for allowing me to offer an opinion.


Reader's e-mail: Your question regarding the flight of a helicopter to the top of Everest, is interesting, Is it good? I am certain that most climbers like myself will say no, because the thought of touching this sacred space by any means other then your own power will be considered obscene. The thought of someone being short roped up the mountain is repulsive to most of us so image the individual who boasts he has been to the top of Mt. Everest by means of a helicopter?

I am sure some will say, "whatever rocks your boat" , all is fair. But for me flight to the top of Everest opens doors which I dread in the future. It will surely not be long before we have a rescue at the top of the mountain. Some poor soul will just keep climbing late into the day not thinking about turn around times because there will be notion that if they are exhausted when they reach the top, they can just call for a rescue. And that will probably happen successfully once. And the next time the weather will not allow for a landing and someone will die, sitting on the top waiting for a ride. It is just this scenario that should never be allowed to happen. The government will have the ability to demand that no such flight should ever happen again, and they should, if for no other reason but to protect some fool from himself. But will this government have the courage to prohibit flight to the top for no reason including rescue of a dying climber, I doubt it. And so Mt. Everest will forever change once again and in my view there is nothing good in the so call accomplishment. Thanks for letting us air our thoughts.


Is it good that we can now fly to the summit in a helicopter? What do you think? EverestNews.com has several questions into erucopter. This all has been a bit strange, maybe they planned it that way... The press release is below.


For picture and video see Download the video (wmv file - 17281 KB)




Pictures copyright: eurcopter.


On May 14th, 2005 at 7h08 (local time), a serial Ecureuil/AStar AS 350 B3 piloted by the EUROCOPTER X-test pilot Didier Delsalle, landed at 8,850 meters (29,035ft) on the top of the Mount Everest.


This tremendous achievement breaks the World Record for the highest altitude landing and take-off ever, which sets an ultimate milestone in the History of Aviation. Fabrice Brégier, President and CEO of the EUROCOPTER Group, world leading helicopter manufacturer, immediately congratulated the pilot and his team for this extraordinary feat.


After taking off from its base camp Lukla on May 14th, 2005 at 2,866 meters (9,403ft) Didier Delsalle onboard his Ecureuil AS350B3 reached the top of Mount Everest. As required by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI - International Aeronautical Federation), the aircraft remained landed on ground more than 2 minutes on the top of the world before flying back to Lukla.


This feat was renewed the day after.


Stepping out of his helicopter, Didier Delsalle commented: "To reach this mythical summit definitively seemed to be a dream; despite the obvious difficulties of the target to be reached, the aircraft demonstrated its capability to cope with the situation (…), sublimated by the magic of the place”.


Achieved with a serial helicopter, this absolute World Record once more contributes to underline the unique qualities of the Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3 as a multipurpose, reliable, quick and comfortable helicopter which emerges as the most performing aircraft in the world in the most extreme conditions.


During the trial period, Didier Delsalle and his Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3 flew some rescue missions on behalf of the Nepalese authorities demonstrating the operational capabilities of the aircraft used to set the altitude landing and take-off World Record.


This feat has been achieved further to various flight tests begun one year ago with the Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3 among which:


-          Experimental flight up to 8,992 meters (29,500 ft) in April 2004 in Istres (France),


-          “Time to climb” records to the heights of 3,000, 6,000 and 9,000 meters performed on April 14th, 2005 in respectively 2 minutes 21 seconds, 5 minutes 6 seconds and 9 minutes 26 seconds. These records smash the previous ones held by an Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B1 with respectively 2 minutes 59 seconds, 6 minutes 55 seconds and 13 minutes 52 seconds,


-          Experimental flight up to 10.211 meters (33.500 ft) on April 14, 2005,


-          Landing at the South Pass of Mount Everest at 7,925 meters (26,000 ft) on May 12th, 2005, establishing a new altitude landing and take-off record, previously held by a Cheetah helicopter - variant of the Lama - at 7,670 meters (25,150 ft).


With this landing on the top of the world, EUROCOPTER demonstrates that its technological innovations provide its products a length - height - ahead, set at the disposal of its worldwide customers.


To date, 3,670 Ecureuil/AStar have been sold worldwide and logged 15 million flight hours. Since its introduction on the market, the Ecureuil/AStar/Twinstar family has been benefiting of successive improvements among which its most powerful version is the Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3. This aircraft is serial equipped with modern systems such as dual channel FADEC, Vehicule and Engine Monitoring Display, integrated GPS, etc…. 424 Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3 are currently in operation worldwide, mainly used for missions requiring high performances, such as aerial work (cargo sling capacity: 1,400kg) in very high and hot conditions.

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