It happened on May 14, 2005 at 7:08 am local time. A Squirrel / AStar AS350 B3 helicopter landed on top of Mount Everest. He touched down on the 8.848 meters peak. Just taking off around 3 minutes 50 seconds later after a sensational demonstration of balance. Inside the cockpit: a Frenchman, test pilot Didier Delsalle. Alone in a chopper stripped of its passanger seats and all that could weigh! A serial helicopter, not a prototype or a modified machine, specified the manufacturer. Importantly, to reduce weight, the team limited onboard fuel to one hour of autonomy. Better not to get lost! The helicopter took off from Lukla Airportand returned back there, folowwing his ride on top of Mount Everest.
Didier Delsalle, returning from his feat, said: “The hardest part was finding the best route to reach the mountain through the fantastic updrafts and downdrafts. The wind at these altitudes is so powerful, you can feel the hand of nature, and this nature is above all human power. You have to understand how nature works here. To find the right route to land, you must make the mountain accept you, if you try to force fate, the mountain will reject you. “
Everest summit landing movie
Three on-board mini-cameras allow us to relive this moment today.
The World Air Sports Federation even validated this incredible record for the highest takeoff in history! A first attempt on May 12th allowed the pilot to get acquainted with the environment. The day after the record, Didier Delsalle repeated his landing at the top of the mountain to prove that the the previous day success was not a fluke. The Frenchman began his career as a fighter pilot before becoming interested in helicopters. He holds other records, including speed records of ascension to 3,000, 6,000 and 9,000 meters.
Credits chopper Everest © Airbus Helicopters