7 summits by Microlight

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25 Oct 2006 FAI Gold Air medal
1 Dec 2005, Aconcagua expedition
4 Feb 2005, RAeC Awards
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1 Jan 2005, 3rd place Best of ExplorersWeb 2004 Awards
1 June, Home
22 May, Fog again
23 May, Hollywood
24 May, Full story
24 May, Summited!
21 May, Nearly
20 May, Rain
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18 May, Smelly socks
16 May, Line break
17 May
15 May, A narrow escape
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9 May, fog
8 May, Everest in sight!
19 Apr, Pokhara
23 Apr, Oxygen
26 Apr, Lukla
5 May, Still Lukla
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30 Mar, Kit despatched
6 Mar 25,280 ft
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5 Mar Guidonia
31 Jan
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(UTC + 5:45)

Balloon expeditions to Everest

1990 | 1991 | 2001


Three Japanese, Michio Kanda, Sabu Ichiyoshi and Etushi Saito took off in a hot air balloon on 9 May from Yeleb in Tibet, some 40 miles NE of Everest.  They became becalmed and then crashed into the mountain at 18,500 ft nearly out of gas.  Ichiyoshi broke his leg on impact and they were all lucky to escape the subsequent fire and gas explosion.  They lost all their survival equipment in the fire but Kanda descended to base camp while the other two sheltered under their parachutes.  They were finally rescued after 36 hours on the mountain.


The British / Australian ‘Star Micronics” team launched two large hot air balloons at 16,000 ft with Chris Dewhirst / Leo Dickinson and Andy Elson / Eric Jones on board on 21 October from Gokyo some 15 miles to the West of Everest.  Detailed meterological work resulted in an almost perfect flight route over the summit. 

The actual flights however didn’t go entirely to plan; the two balloons got separated at the very start and so an important photographic opportunity was substantially lost.  As the first balloon crossed the summit at 34,000 ft and 60 MPH the second balloon had a series of burner failures; Eric Jones recalled: “when the burners went out, the mountain just kept growing and growing as we sank towards it” while Andy Elson said later “as I slid down into the basket having lit the burners for the third time, I looked at the altimeter and saw it reading somewhere around 26,000 ft.,  By now we were well past Nuptse and over the Western Cwm.  The big mass of Everest was getting bigger all the time, but I knew that at some point it must stop getting bigger.  I looked at the mountain approaching and had the distinct feeling that Eric was getting ready to leave.”   As they approached the South Col with all burners blazing, seven steel flying wires separated from the balloon, in one corner there was just one wire remaining.  “As we cleared the mountain I thought we were over the worst.  Just at that moment we hit turbulence.” said Jones, however the balloon survived and they passed over the South Col with about 2,000 ft to spare.

The drama wasn’t completely over.  The first balloon may have easily cleared the mountain but they had used up much more gas than planned and now only had enough remaining for one attempt at arresting their descent to land on the Tibetan plateau some 50 miles to the East of the mountain.  They struck a Moraine ridge hard at 20 mph and swung across a valley.  During the second bounce both pilots were ejected violently from the basket, Leo Dickinson had a narrow escape when a rope tangled around his foot and was dragged for some way through a rock field before he managed to slip out of his boot.  The balloon carried on for some considerable distance before one of them managed to catch it up and deflate it. By contrast, Andy Elson landed his balloon a few miles away in nil wind with plenty of gas remaining.


In mid-September the Celebrated British explorer David Hempleman-Adams was forced to abandon the Cadbury Everest Challenge, a solo attempt to fly a hot-air balloon over Everest from the Rongbuk monastery after the Chinese authorities withdrew his permission to fly, probably as a result of the recent 9/11 attack in New York.


ICARO 2000 Hang Gliding World Champion
ALPHA emergency parachute
The FIAT group
THE NORTH FACE clothing for extreme conditions
Articole Studios - GRP mouldings
Lyndhurst Touchdown Services.  Supplier of fuel system components to the expedition.
SKYDRIVE, the UK Distributor of ROTAX engines
Mainair Sports; UK dealer for Warp Drive Propellors
MAINAIR SPORTS  manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
BAILEY AVIATION manufacturers of Paramotors and automotive sport acessories
PARAMINA; Suppliers of Oxygen equipment to the expedition
Neltec flexible heaters
Industrial Pressure Testing Ltd; Suppliers of Oxygen cylinders to the expedition.
PEGASUS AVIATION manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
O-ZEE flight suits.  Suppliers of Bar-mitts to the expedition.
AdventureWeather.com providing Meteorological information to the expedition
Gerbings heated clothing
FLYCOM Intercom and Radio equipment
Quatar airways
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3 Jan 2004
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