First Soaring Flight over Mount Everest

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On January 31 Klaus Ohlmann succeeded in making the first soaring flight over Mount Everest, another achievement for this outstanding pilot.  According to the first sketchy reports, he took off from the Pokhara airport in Nepal in a Stemme S-10 motorglider, climbed under power high enough to continue in soaring flight toward Mount Everest.  <--break->Using weak thermals and ridge lift and then rotor and finally wave lift he was able to climb over Mount Everest (29,093 ft).  It was a blue day without any clouds to mark the various lift sources.  It will be interesting to learn more about this flight and to see more of the pictures – the first ones released are awe inspiring.

This flight marks the end of the Mountain Wave Project Nepal 2013 expedition.  It started with a two week trip of two S-10s (one with a very sophisticated sensor pod under the right wing) from Germany to Nepal (see eGlidepath from 10/2/2013) and an agonizing 6 week wait in Kathmandu – Nepal’s capital -  for the local authorities to issue the required permits.  The actual data gathering flights for the scientific part of the expedition started only in January; but the scientists involved think that they got all the data they had hoped for.

Meanwhile Sebastian Kawa and his crew had even more difficulties with the Indian and Nepalese authorities trailering their ASH-25 to Nepal and getting permission to start flying.  In the end they managed only one extended flight in less than optimum conditions before their time ran out.  Otherwise Sebastian Kawa might have been the first to soar over Mount Everest.  While the experience of both teams with the Nepalese aviation authorities was extremely frustrating, it may have broken the ice and may lead to more such efforts.

Everybody gained some valuable experience and soaring may actually have gained a foothold in the Himalayas.