“Everest skydive is uniting people from all over the world” – Andy Elson, Cosmonaut & Crew member of Everest Skydive 2008

Posted Oct 12th, 2008 under Interviews, Skydive,

Explore Himalaya had an opportunity to meet up with Andy Elson, renowned scientist and a crew member of the Everest Skydive team on 2nd Oct 2008. Before he left for England, Andy talked at length about the Everest skydive and his part in the project.

Andy is a cosmonaut, aeronaut and life support systems specialist. He is also the first balloonist to fly over Mt.Everest.

Andy Elson

EH: What do you think about the Everest Skydive project? How does it help Nepal?
AE: The Everest skydive is very exciting and because it brings all sorts of different people together to have another adventure in Nepal, it brings a lot of publicity to Nepal . Hopefully the introduce lots more and people to Nepal.

The skydivers will be parachuting from 29,500ft probably the height of Everest about seven or ten miles away from Everest, landing at Shyangboche and it’s not just for experienced skydivers. You and I can go and do it. It’s possible to make a tandem jump where there’s an instructor and you get strapped onto the front of the instructor and you get down together under one big parachute. That makes it possible for anybody to do it and possibly even people with some sort of disabilities can do it. So it’s really exciting. It’s bringing Everest and the view of the top of Everest to people.

I think the skydiving really focuses world attention on Nepal. China has just had the Olympic Games and that was a great success and everybody is concentrating on sports now. And this is uniting people whose sport is skydiving from all over the world. We have got people from New Zealand, South America, North America, France, Germany, Belgium, Pakistan and UAE. I believe its really uniting people from all over the world and they are going to take the message back to their country that Nepal is a fantastic place .Of course they wouldn’t have come here if it wasn’t for the skydiving. So you know I think it helps to make Nepal an up and coming place (which it is) and make the world aware of it. Nepal is one of my favorite places and I have been here many times. It is a delight being here and trying to make this project a success.’


EH: What were your responsibilities as part of the Everest Skydive team?
AE: ‘My job on the project has involved advising on the altitude, how the people can stay safe.  That’s part of the reason why they got quite an extensive trekking program where there’s not people arriving in Kathmandu, flying up to Lukla and then rushing off to do the skydive. They are going for a ten day trek to acclimatize first to altitude and then once they come back from the trek to Shyangboche, which is a drop zone, they get taken at 29,500ft in the aeroplane where they would be on oxygen all the way up and then just before they jump they disconnect from the aeroplane oxygen supply and connect to a bottle which they have got onto their parachute harness. So they are on oxygen all the way back down to the drop zone again at 12,300 ft.

My job is to write the specification for all the equipments and to do the initial test for the equipment. I have done my part of job there and I am going back to England, to start hopefully, doing the preparation for next year’s skydive. But I have trained a small team of people to work with the oxygen equipment and they are all there in Shyangboche. It all seems to be going on well so far.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the rest of the team to make it happen or to help to make it make it happen and I hope it will be very successful and everybody enjoys it and benefits from it. I am very proud to have been able to help with it.’

EH: Did you find it challenging to work on this project?
AE: ‘I think the project of this nature is always a challenge. Getting everything together at the right time, getting the weather forecasting right and getting all the people in the right places is a challenge .But its great fun just bringing people to Nepal and seeing the look on their faces, especially while they are trudging up Namche Hill (which is quite difficult), and they get to that point in the hill where they see Everest through the trees and they smile, and forget how tired they are. It’s great to see the smiles lighting up their tired faces! ‘

EH: What are you involved in, at present?
AE: ‘In Europe I am designing a new heating parasystem, which is carbon neutral. And as an engineer, I am trying to help the planet a little bit by working on to reduce the emissions that people produce by using electricity. It is a private project and I am working with my small team.’

Everest Skydive Creates History

Posted Oct 11th, 2008 under Skydive, Special Events,

The historic Everest Skydive event came to a finale today. 41 Solo and Tandem Jumpers skydived in front of the World’s Highest Peak and landed on the highest drop zone in the world, Shyangboche (12,350ft.). Their names have made it the international record books.

1st Group

In the first group, except for Fareed Lafta who jumped from an altitude 18,000ft, the rest of the dives were made from 29,500ft.

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Fareed Lafta Iraq Solo 6:24 AM
2. Christophe De Pauw Belgium Solo 6:25 AM
3. Wendy Smith New Zealand Solo 6:43 AM
4. Steve Hennessey (Australian) & Peter Baker (British) Australia / Britain Tandem 6:44 AM

2nd Group

Except for Martin Preston who jumped from a height of 19,000ft., the rest of the jumps were made from 29,500ft.

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Martin Preston Britain Solo 7:37 AM
2. Omar Alhegelan USA Solo 7:54 AM
3. Ryan Jackson Britain Solo 7:55 AM
4. Ralph Mitchell (British) & Molly Beddingfield (British) Britain Tandem 7:57 AM

3rd Group – 29,500ft.

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Wendy Smith New Zealand Solo 8:45 AM
2. Steve Hennessey (Australian) & William Thomason (Kiwi) Australia / New Zealand Tandem 8:48 AM
3. Namira Salim (Pakistani) & Tom Noonan (American) Pakistan / USA Tandem 8:50 AM

4th Group – 29,500ft.

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Omar Alhegelan USA Solo 10:25 AM
2. Fareed Lafta Iraq Solo 10:26 AM
3. Martin Preston Britain Solo 10:27 AM
4. Christophe De Pauw Belgium Solo 10:27 AM
5. Derek Thomas USA Solo 10:28 AM

Everest Skydive Updates

Posted Oct 10th, 2008 under Skydive, Special Events,

Latest Update

1st Group (29,500ft)

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Omar Alhegelan USA Solo 8:41 AM
2. Dean Edwards Britain Solo 8:42 AM
3. Derek Thomas USA Solo 8:42 AM
4. Adolphe Botha South Africa Solo 8:43 AM
5. Leigh Pretty Britain Solo 8:44 AM

2nd Group

In this group, except for the tandem jump by Maya Gurung and Tom Noonan (which was done from a height of 22,500ft), the rest were made from the height of 29,500ft. Everest summiter Maya Gurung became the first Nepali woman to Skydive in the Everest region.

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Tom Noonan(American) & Maya Gurung(Nepali) USA/ Nepal Tandem 9:44 AM
2. Wendy Smith New Zealand Solo 10:04 AM
3. Ralph Mitchell(British) & Derek Cornelius(British) Britain Tandem 10:05 AM

3rd Group (29,500ft)

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Omar Alhegelan USA Solo 11:24 AM
2. Ralph Mitchell (British) & Howard Shao (American) Britain / USA Tandem 10:04 AM
3. Steve Hennessey (Australian) & Ron Hudson (American) Australia / USA Tandem 10:05 AM

Everest Skydive – 9th October

Posted Oct 9th, 2008 under Skydive, Special Events,

Latest Update

Today only one group could make the skydive due to poor weather conditions. The divers jumped from a height of 29,400ft.

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Omar Alhegelan USA Solo 7:45 AM
2. Herman S.Duscher Switzerland Solo 7:46 AM
3. Derek Thomas USA Solo 7:47 AM
4. Thomas Laurie Hinds Britain Solo 7:47 AM

Everest Skydive updates – 7th October

Posted Oct 7th, 2008 under Skydive, Special Events,

Today there were 3 solos and 5 tandem jumps. Jane Dougall, reporter of Five News was among the tandem jumpers.

1st Group (29,500ft.)

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Wendy Smith New Zealand Solo 9:15 AM
2. Steve Hennessey (Australian) & Djuan Rivers(American) Australia/USA Tandem 9:16 AM
3. Tom Noonan (American)& Kate Craigwood (British) USA/Britain Tandem 9:16 AM

2nd Group (29,500ft.)

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Omar Alhegelan USA Solo 10:19 AM
2. Ralph Mitchell (British) & Jane Dougall (British) Britain Tandem 10:21 AM

3rd Group (29,500ft.)

SN Name Country Solo/Tandem Landing Time(local)
1. Wendy Smith New Zealand Solo 11:19 AM
2. Harold Watkins (British) & Steve Hennessey (Australian) Britain/Australia Tandem 11:20 AM
3. Tom Noonan (British) & Darren Thatcher (British) Britain Tandem 11:20 AM

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