Report: Everest Eurocopter Landing Was Hoax

Everestnews is reporting that the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has said the pilot of the Eurocopter has told them that he did not actually land on the Everest summit on May 14 and 15 as widely publicized but rather 1,000 meters lower on the South Col (and then it only hovered).

Blogs and internet chat rooms had lit up with charges of fraud after Eurocopter released its movie of the landing. The movie from three onboard cameras had been heavily edited. The video showed a summit that was too round, lacked the notorious oxygen bottle debris and was missing critical landmarks.

Everestnews notes:

Note you see the mountain, then they cut to what they call the “summit”. This happens at 2.23 of the video. No landing of the helicopter is shown. They label the video as the Summit of Everest. The summit appears very round, where is the South East ridge? Can you see it? Where is the trash? The rocks that appear in many summit pictures normally on the left are not shown. Stop the video at 3.29, and look. Stop the video at 3.30 again and look close. Then the film is edited (cut again). The cut again at 3.33. Then again cut again to a scene of the helicopter flying over Everest.

Everestnews quoted the Nepal Authorities:

Upon inquiry, the captain of the flight Didier Delsalle in a written explanation has said that it was impossible to land because of the adverse topography, the CAAN said. Delsalle had only made emergency landing some 1000 metres below at the South Col due to bad weather and therefore the landing cannot be confirmed.

Not mentioned in the article but mentioned earlier, the Eurocopter did say the copter set down on the “South Pass” on May 12 and so that may be the reason for the confusion.

Still the timing of the Nepal Civil Air comments on June 2 after the flights counter that. The agency is involved because it did not issue a permit for the landing. Eurocopter was only permitted to fly over Everest.

Kantipuronline from Nepal says:

“The helicopter had not demanded permission for landing on the peak,” said the CAAN “and therefore no permit had been given and such imaginary publicity by the Eurocopter is regretted.”

The permission for the test flight has been withdrawn in view of the sensitivity from the available information as the conditions of the flight were violated, and the helicopter has been returned to Kathmandu, said the statement.

Everestnews had quoted Didler before the charges were made:

When you are familiar with helicopters characteristics, you will know that this kind of “landing” is much more difficult and requires much more power than to land on a rather flat area where all the landing gear can be fully set on the ground. But the “hover landing” is essential to demonstrate to allow mountain rescue operation capability…
– I have stabilized the hover landing with the skids in contact with the ground for 3 minutes and 50 seconds.

Eurocopter Photo Gallery (including 17 meg mov and wmv movies)

You will get a more accurate idea of what happened by looking at the official Eurocopter movie. But here’s a 2 meg short version of the actual “landing” has eyewitness accounts from climbers on the mountain although none saw it actually land.
My Commentary
There’s no question that the copter’s feat was spectacular to even get to the South Coll. Why the #@$% would they claim the summit unless they actually did it!?!? It’s instantly recognizable and folks are pretty passionate about it. It should also be noted that Everest is loaded politically — so the permits are important. The approach was totally done from Nepal and not from China.

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