7 summits by Microlight

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(UTC + 5:45)
2-1

News release: 15 May, A narrow escape


 

 
I decided that Sydney Spider should be introduced to an eagle. Sydney got on a rock to view the eagle but before I could take a photo of them admiring each other the eagle decided that Sydney Spider might actually be rather a tasty meal and grabbed him! Sydney said later:

"I can tell you it was a very unpleasant experience. Before I could escape, the beautiful eagle grabbed me in his beak and in a moment I was pinned on the ground in his claws and he was trying to rip my legs off! Luckily I am a tough old thing and none of them came off (even if they did, everybody knows I can grow them back again). Once he realized I am made of stern stuff he grabbed me in his beak again and tried to swallow me whole! Richard wasn't being much use all this time, just leaping around shouting "no no no" a lot, which didn't have the slightest effect on the eagle. Luckily he did come to my rescue in the end though, just as I was about to be swallowed whole he grabbed the eagle round the neck so I wouldn't go down its throat and I was spat out. I can tell you I was away out of range as fast as my eight legs would carry me, and apart from a few bruises utterly unscathed. Angelo told me later that the eagle was disappointed to have missed such a tasty looking meal, but otherwise quite unharmed."

The weather forecast is looking good for 'the real thing' tomorrow, so we were up at 5 again today for another test flight. Yet again it was very cloudy, and raining a bit too, so we went for breakfast instead.

We effectively have two weather systems to cope with on our Over Everest flight which makes things very difficult. There is the weather in the valleys which is so local it is more or less unforecastable, we therefore will only fly early morning when it is relatively calm and daren't fly at all unless the valley is more or less completely clear of cloud. If it isn't it can put all our potential landing places in a fog in minutes. There is then the high level winds; the intertropical jetstream is a sort of cylinder or 'snake' of wind up to 250 Km/h which circulates the globe, it weaves around like a snake, sometimes it is overhead here, sometimes in Tibet and sometimes in India, it has been more or less overhead Everest for the last two weeks. Normally jetstreams only affect airliners but Everest is sufficiently high that the jetstream actually hits it. With our slow speed of 60 - 80 Km/h we definitely don't want to be anywhere near such winds as we would end up going backwards into China at great speed. We are getting daily forecasts of these high level winds by email from Adventureweather.com . and you can see them on this site.

The jetstream is forecast to move off today to Tibet for a few days leaving the summit with winds of 10 - 15 M/sec which is what we need, we can only hope that the valley is clear tomorrow morning.

This afternoon we heard that eight climbers made it to the Summit of Everest today, the first of this season and perhaps an indication that the upper winds forecast is correct, climbers need relatively low winds too.

Barty and I ran a final test on all my kit today. It takes about an hour for me to get dressed, when we are done I am more like a spaceman than a microlight pilot. This is how it goes. Rig machine. Open blue barrel containing all flying kit on dry tarpaulin. I am wearing t shirt, longjohns, trousers and one pair of thin socks. Fit nasal catheter for emergency oxygen system, over this goes my Gerbings heated suit, socks, trousers and jacket. Neck warmer and fleece and then into my The North Face suit. This is not so much an item of clothing as an engineering marvel, I have tested it without the heated suit to -40c and stayed warm. We have fitted out the suit with radio, and radio batteries in the pockets to keep them warm and I have a sort of umbilical cord with intercom/radio helmet lead, PTT button lead, intercom recorder lead, antenna lead, heated suit power lead, heated gloves power lead and emergency oxygen hose. I then don plastic boots, rather like ski boots. The pair I am using actually went to the Summit of Everest on Matt Dickinson in 1996. Then a thin balaclava helmet and heated gloves and outer gloves. Finally my helmet and primary oxygen mask is fitted, the demand regulator (ex RAF Phantom F4) is supported on a string round my neck and plugged in to my main oxygen supply which is a 10 litre carbon fibre wound aluminium bottle inflated to 200 bar which should give me enough oxygen for about 2 1/2 hours. My mask, an 'MBU-12' as used in many USAF aircraft is necessarily a tight fit and rather uncomfortable is clipped onto my helmet and finally the visor is closed, a large neoprene flap stuck to the visor is then fitted around the mask and tucked into my suit and velcroed onto my helmet so there are absolutely no 'leaks' of super-cold air onto my face which could cause frostbite. With all this on I really fel like a spaceman! (It is a good idea to go to the loo before starting to put all this stuff on too!)

All we can hope for is clear weather tomorrow....

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