April 3 – First Flight Over Mount Everest

Posted on April 3, 2017

Do you know what the highest mountain in the world is?

Now, picture flying over it in the early 1900s. In one of these:

The Scottish nobleman named Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (who eventually became the 14th Duke of Hamilton, the Keeper of Holyroodhouse, and the 11th Duke of Brandon) led the kind of life in which you get the best schooling, you earn "a Blue" in boxing as well as the Scottish Amateur Middleweight title, you get to be a Member of Parliament without having to get elected, and you are appointed honorary colonel of a battalion of your nation's army.

And you have a lot of names! Not only did this particular nobleman have two "Douglas"s in his name, and not only did he become "Duke of" two different titles and "Keeper of" one, before he became the Duke, he was called Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale, and he was called Lord Clydesdale.

But Hamilton didn't just sit down and enjoy a cushy life. He went to work athis family's mine, for a while, joining a Trades Union and calling himself "Mr. Hamilton," so he would be able to experience the sort of life his family's employees experience.  Also, he learned to fly airplanes when they were still pretty new-fangled, and he joined the world's first Air Force -  the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force in the 1920s. (Remember, the Wright Brothers famously flew the first controlled, powered flights in late 1903; the RAF was founded in 1918, and Hamilton got his first RAF commission in 1927.

This isn't Hamilton, or his family's
 mines. But it is a Scottish miner
 from around that time.
When Hamilton was just 28 years old, he became the youngest squadron leader of his day.

So perhaps it is not too surprising that Hamilton was bold enough to participate in the Houston-Mount Everest Flight Expedition. (It's called the Houston Expedition because it was sponsored by Lucy, Lady Houston. In other words, she paid the bills.)

This 1933 expedition required flying higher than any before. Hamilton (Lord Clydesdale) was chief pilot in the first flight over Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, and a fellow named D. F. McIntyre was the co-pilot. It was so extremely difficult to fly in such heights - with such little oxygen in the atmosphere - that people realized that they needed to invent pressurized cabins for airplanes.

Hamilton was decorated with the Air Force Cross for this feat. He was considered a genuine hero.

Here are some of the scenes that Hamilton must have seen during his flight:

No comments:

Post a Comment