News release: 5 March
'Base Camp' at Guidonia
We have established a practice 'Base Camp' at Guidonia air base some
30Km NE Rome courtesy of the Italian Air Force, complete with most of
the team, film crew and Eagles.
It is of course not an exact simulation as we will not have any vehicles
in Nepal and certainly no illumination (they have thoughtfully turned
around some of the street lights so they light our camp at night).
Yesterday we assembled all our kit and today we flew two practice tows
to 1500 ft to test out our systems, in particular the Bailey Aviation
'super-trolley' Angelo will have to use in Nepal because the
density-altitude at 12,500 ft means he simply won't be able to run fast
enough to foot launch at our Syangboche advance base camp.
The trolley has several unique features: It has a highly adjustable
steering arrangement which works by two arms in contact with Angelo's
harness. He can steer the trolley by normal 'weightshift control'
input. The tracking and castor of the front wheels is set so the trolley
is very stable at high speed and will continue to track in a straight
line after launch. It also has brakes so Angelo can stop quickly in the
event of a line break during launch and automatically after launch (to
prevent it disappearing over a cliff at the end of the strip).
The trolley needed a couple of small modifications after the first test
when the steering links were proven not strong enough, but thereafter it
performed as it was designed to. We are very pleased with the design
and it is now passed fit for use on 'the real thing'.
We have clearance to 10,000 M for a full-height test either tomorrow or
Sunday, depending on the weather. The Italian Air-Force are providing
two detailed meteorological briefings daily, at the moment the weather
is not looking good, but there may be a window of opportunity tomorrow
We have worked late into the night to prepare everything for tomorrow,
in particular we have successfully re-filled our lightweight oxygen
bottles to 220 Bar using the booster pump provided by HP-Air /
Paramina. This rare hand-operated pump is a real boon to the expedition
as it means we can be sure our lightweight filament-wound oxygen bottles
provided by Andy Elson and IPT are full to capacity with dry oxygen and
we will not be at the mercy of low-pressure source bottles in Nepal.