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First Over Everest

FIRST OVER EVEREST THE HOUSTON MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION 1933 BY AIRCOMMODORE P. F. M. FELLOWES, D.S.O., L V. STEWART BLACKER, O.B.E., P.S.C., COLONEL T, ETHERTON, AND SQUADRON LEADER THE MARQUESS OF DOUGLAS AND CLYDESDALE, M.P. WITH 57 ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS, DIAGRAMS AND MAPS PREFACE I HAVE been asked by my colleagues of the Everest Plight Committee, to set out bridly in iiutechnical language what seem to be the major results of the expedition. The first point to make clear Is that its purpose was not to perform a feat of daring and endurance, to break a record, to do something for the first time. These are doubtless excellent things, and the expedition in fact achieved them...but it was Incidentally. The true purpose was austerely scientific: to show that the aeroplane and the air camera could be made the means of acquiring important knowledge which would otherwise be unattainable. The second point is that for this purpose the most intricate and patient organisation was required. The culminating work would occupy a very small space of time it took actually less than six hours, but to make it possible there had to be months of labour and thought behind it. The case was parallel to that of a great battle, which may be won in half an hour, but where victory is the fruit of laborious preparation. It involved explora tion in an unknown and inaccessible area, and therefore every care had to be taken to reduce the risks to a minimum. The technical problems, in the machines and the cameras, had to be worked out to the last decimal, and there were novel features in both which required elaborate experiments. The success of the expedition was largely determined by the months of hard work in Chelsea, Ycovil, Bristol, London and Karachi, between March 1933 and its arrival at Purnca in March 1933 It must also be remembered that the Committee assumed grave responsibilities. The Air Council gave the project its benediction, and die trust of the Ait Council had to be justified. The Government of India approved, and die Government of Nepal agreed to what was an unprecedented request. There was a heavy responsibility, too, to the patriotic lady who provided the funds, and to the flying men themselves, to see that nothing was left undone to insure safety and success. The expedition was no lighthearted escapade, but an enterprise based in every detail on the most serious thought. To turn to the results. The first purpose was to put Everest and the untrodden ground south of it on the map. There could, of course, be no hope of producing a complete map of so big an area for that many flights would have been needed. What was obtained from the two flights was a series of survey strips, based upon vertical photographs. Thus die experts were able to piece together a map strip some twenty miles long and some thing under two miles wide, culminating in the summit of Everest.
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