Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

80th anniversary of first flight over Everest by Scottish flyers in 1933

I don’t know how widespread knowledge of the first flight ever to have been made over Everest on April 3, 1933 is, but I thought I should take this opportunity to spread the story of Group Captain Duncan McIntyre (then Lieutenant) and the Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale (later 14th Duke of Hamilton, Douglas Douglas-Hamilton), the pioneering pair which made that record flight over the mountain in an open biplane, a Westland PV3. The story came to light for us a few years ago, when looking into the background behind the creation of Scottish Aviation Ltd.

The media recalled the event on the day of its anniversary:

On April 3 1933 Lieut. David McIntyre and Sir Douglas Douglas-Hamilton were the first men to fly over the summit of Everest. Today Hamilton’s grandson has repeated the flight to celebrate its 80th anniversary. The 1933 Houston Mount Everest Expedition was inspired by the men who, thousands of feet below, hoped to get to the mountaintop in a very different way; but it was a mountaineering physiologist who first suggested the flight might be possible.

Douglas-Hamilton and McIntyre were bankrolled by the glamorous, eccentric (and slightly scandalous) Lady Houston, and organised by Major L V Stewart Blacker, who had retired from the Royal Flying Corps and was working as an arms manufacturer. Blacker was motivated by the extensive press coverage of the 1933 Everest Expedition, and managed to persuade the Royal Geographical Society that an overflight would be useful, as well as convincing the Air Ministry, India Office and the Nepali government to let the flight happen.

The Houston Expedition has all the characteristics of a classic tale of derring-do, not least because of the involvement of adventure author John Buchan. It was also an unquestionable act of bravery, and a technological achievement, in terms not only of aviation but also photography. (The fact that the Times illustrated one article on the Houston expedition with a photograph of Makalu instead of Everest was admittedly a rather unfortunate mistake…)

Via The first flight over Everest: a physiologist’s dream | Vanessa Heggie | Science |

Westland-PV3 over Everest

Westland-PV3 over Everest

Just a small point I have come to wonder about in all the shots we see of record-breaking or dangerous situations…

We always know who the record-breaker is, but since the photographer and support teams are in the same place and often doing the same thing – why don’t we generally know them?

Just thought.


April 3, 2013 - Posted by | Aviation | , , , , , , ,

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