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Houston Everest Flight Articles
Chronology Of The Everest Flights
The Westland Wallace
The Houston Westland Aircraft
Everest Bristol Pegasus S.3
The Everest Flight Cameras
Pre Expedition Proving Tests
Departing For Everest
Members Of The Expedition
Everest Conquered
The Second Flight
The Everest Year
The Times Luncheon


 


The Everest Year

FLIGHT JANUARY 26, 1933
The Mount Everest Flight Expedition The first test flight to an altitude of 24,000 It. was carried out by the Westland P.V.3 named the Houston Westland on January 23. Flown by Mr. H. J. Penrose, this height was reached within the calculated time and Air Comm. P. F. M. Fellowes, acting as observer in the rear cockpit, found the general equipment in every way satisfactory. The Bristol " Pegasus " S.3 supercharged engine functioned perfectly, while the special heating equipment and oxygen installation were found to be satisfactory. The observers' cockpit is enclosed, while sliding windows are provided for operating a cinema camera during the actual flight over the mountain. The second machine, a Westland "Wallace," is expected to be ready for its test flights shortly. Both these machines are designed so that a ceiling of 34,000 ft. can easily be obtainable and the observers' cockpit in each case is enclosed for the protection of the photographer.

FLIGHT MARCH 2, 1933
Everest Flight - THE Houston Mount Everest night, after having been weather bound for nearly four days at Catania in Sicily, resumed their journey to India on Thursday, February 21. They were forced to land at Trapani, on the north-west corner of Sicily, by a heavy gale accompanied by hail. On Friday, February 24, they arrived at Tunis, and flew on to Sirte (on the coast about 800 miles west of Alexandria), calling at Cabes and Tripoli, where they were t he guests of the 104 Italian Squadron. They arrived at Cairo on Monday, February 27, where they will remain until Wednesday, March 1. The subsequent route will be hy way of Amman, Baghdad and Bushire.

FLIGHT MARCH 9, 1933
THE members of the Houston Everest Expedition arrived at Amman in Transjordan on the afternoon of March 1, on March 2 they left for Rutbah Wells, where they were delayed on account of violent sandstorms. They eventually reached Baghdad early in the morning of March 3, where they were again delayed owing to permission to fly through Persia not having arrived though it was asked for in London five weeks ago. During their stay in Baghdad the members of the expedition were the guests of Sir Francis Humphrys, the British Ambassador in Baghdad. On Sunday, March 5th the Expedition reached Bushire after a very , troublesome Journey from Baghdad; owing to sandstorms the visibility was less than 200 yards. and so the machines turned back; Air Cdre Fellowes lost the others, but eventually reached Basra. Meanwhile Lord Clydesdale and Flt.Lt. MacIntyre, after having landed near the railway, eventually went to Ur, where they spent the night in a rest house. On March 6 the Expedition reached Gwadar, on the coast of Baluchistan, having called at Bandar Abbas.

FLIGHT MARCH 16, 1933
Houston Everest Expedition
THE Houston Everest Expedition (whose progress has been reported in previous issues of FLIGHT) arrived at Kamchi on March 7. The s.s, Dagoma, carrying the Westland machines, arrived on the following day, and these were removed to the H.A.F. depot for assembling. Lord Clydesdale and FIt. Lt. Mclntyre flew to Delhi to .inspect aerodromes in preparation Ior the flight across India. On March 10 they proceeded to Purnea, where the main base of the expedition will be established. On March 13 Lord Clydesdale , Col. Blac ker and FIt. Lt. Mclntyre, who were returning to Karachi from Purnea, left the Expedition's " Fox Moth " secured by pickets on the aerodrome. During the night a storm arose which tore the machine from its moorings and carried it 100 yds., damaging the wings, airscrew and fuselage.

FLIGHT MARCH 23, 1933
ON Wednesday, March 15, FIt. Lt. Mclntyre, the second pilot of the Houston Everest Expedition, accompanied by Mr Bonnett,. the chief photographer made a successful altitude test III the Westland Wallace. In 90 min. the height of 34,000 ft. was reached, and Mr. Bonnett, with his head outside the cockpit. experienced in photography. The wind, however, seemed to go right through his mask and carry away the oxygen, so he was forced to return speedily to the shelter of the cockpit and press the oxygen mask close against .his face.. Both the pilots appear to have found the electrical heating of their boots uncomfortable about the knees, Mr. Bonnett becoming so hot in that region of his anatomy that he was 'unable to kneel down without switching .off the-boot-heating apparatus. The temperature at 34,000 ft. was minus 45 deg. (Centigrade), compared with minus 60 deg. on the Yeovil test flight. The lowest temperature m the cockpit was minus 30 deg. The descent occupied 45 min., and small pieces of ice thawing off the wings fell into the cockpit. Visibility at the greatest height was only 40 miles. On Thursday, March 16, Lord Clydesdale, accompanied by Col. Blacker, also made a test flight in the " Houston 'Westland," and reached a height of 35,000 It. 'in 2 hr. 15 min. Owing to a false start caused by a faulty generator this flight was made in the hottest part of the day, and Lord Clydesdale and Col. Blacker had trouble with frosted goggles, also with the electrical heating of the boots, as during the test flight of the day before. Lord Clydesdale reports that the Bristol " Pegasus S.III " 'engine was most efficient. On Monday, March 20, the members of the expedition left Karachi by air for Purnea, the main base from which the great attempt will be made.

FLIGHT MARCH 30, 1933
The Houston Everest machines - the "Houston Westlands" The Westland "Wallace" and the two " Moths," with the .personnel supplemented by Col. Blncker, and F/O. R.C.W. Ellison left Karachi on March 20 (as was reported in FLIGHT of last week). After refuelling at Hyderabad the expedition arrived at ]odhpur in time for lunch ; here they stayed the night as guests of the Maharajah. On Tuesday, March 21, they arrived at Delhi, where the machines were inspected by the Viceroy. During tile afternoon of March 22 the machines arrived at Purnea, the two larger machines being housed in two big tents at the excellent aerodrome 9 miles east of the town. The members of the expedition stayed at Darbhanga House, the property of the Maharajah of Darbhanga, the smaller machines being accommodated in a tent alongside the house. Two bases have been established ; the first on the site of the mutiny battle at Lalbalu, 7 miles from Purnea, the second at Forbesgany, 50 miles nearer the mountain. A special meteorological station has also been erected. An experimental
flight was carried out in a "Moth" to test an anti-freezing mixture.

On March 26 Air Cdre Fellowes made the first reconnaissance of tile mountain area in a " Puss Moth " with Mr. E.C. Shepherd as passenger. From 100 miles away a clear view was obtained of Everest. There was evidence of high winds over the mountains, great plumes of snow being blown off the crest of Everest's peak at intervals, and streaming away in grey streaks against the blue sky. The wind velocity at 11,000 ft. was estimated at 50 m.p.h., and the warm winds blowing up from the plains on to the snow formed a belt of white clouds.

The two aeroplanes and engines have been thoroughly examined in preparation for the great flight. The Bristol " Pegasus " engines, cruising at a speed of 110 m.p.h., consume about 20 galls. an hour. So far the weather has not been suitable for any serious trial flights, the strength of the wind varying from 22 m.p.h. at 1,200 It. to 70 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft. lt is proposed, after the flight, to drop photographs at Kalirnpong, from where they will be conveyed by runner to the expedition attempting to climb Mount Everest.

Dr.S.C.Roy, Officer-in-Charge of the Daily Weather section of the Meteorological Department in Poona, has been appointed special meteorologist to the Government of India in connection with the two attempts, one by air and the other' by foot, to conquer Everest. Mr. Roy, trained in England, who has had several years' experience with the Department in India and has always been interested in aviation, was appointed in 1929 to organise , new observatories inaugurated on account of the then rapid development of aviation in India. He is now in charge of Darjeeling and Purnea, the headquarters, respectively, of the main' expedition and the Houston flying expedition, and will organise pilot balloon stations there, which will supply the expeditions with data in regard to wind velocities at different heights and similar information. After this Dr. Roy will go to Calcutta, where his sole duty will be to study conditions affecting Mount Everest and issue special forecast reports -regularly for the benefit of the expeditions. It is likely forecasts will be dispatched by wireless from Calcutta, particularly for the benefit of the main expedition, which will be equipped with the best portable wireless plant available.

FLIGHT APRIL 6, 1933
Everest-Congratulations
APROPOS the aerial conquest of Mt.Everest (reported on page 311), Capt. Pritchard, Secretary of the Royal Aeron autical Society, sent the following telegrams:-To Air Commodore Fellowes,-" President, Mr. Fairey, and Council, Royal Aeronautical Society, send you and all those concerned their heartiest congratulations on the conquest of Mount Everest. The result is a high tribute to British machines, engines and pilots, and the most thorough preparation which was bound to lead to ultimate success ." To Lady Houston,--" The President, Mr. C. R. Fairey, and the Council of the Royal Aeronautical Society , convey to you their very sincere congratulations on the mo st magnificent success of the Houston Expedition, culminating in the great conquest of Mount Everest. Such success was made possible by your unfailing generosity in the cause of British aviation. To you Great Britain owes the permanent possession of the Schneider Trophy, and the the undying prestige of this country being the first to conquer the highest point on the earth's surface."

FLIGHT MAY 18, 1933
Everest Fliers Return
THREE of the members of the Houston-Everest expedition returned to England by air on May 15. Air Commodore Fellowes, the leader of the expedition, piloted the" Puss Moth," carrying his wife as passenger. FIt.Lt. Mclntyre and F /O. Ellison returned in Lord Clydesdales " Gipsy Moth." The machines left Karachi on May 6, and neither they nor their engines gave any trouble, in spite of the fact that they have by now done something like 17,000 miles since leaving Heston on February 16. No attempt was made to make the return flight in " record" time, and in point of fact, in spite of. bad weather and officiousness encountered at one landing place causing delay, the return journey in 9 days was made more or less leisurely.

FLIGHT May 25, 1933
The Everest Photographs
ON Wednesday, May 17, Col. L.V. Stewart Blacker opened an exhibition at the Ilford Galleries, 101, High Holborn, London, of photographs taken during the Houston Mount Everest flight. Referring to some of the photographs he drew attention to mysterious shapes which' were difficult to account for and which might be taken to be the benign spirits of Everest due to which, according to the Hindu mystics, the party was able to return safely after their flights. Despite the excellence of the photographs Col. Blacker denied that he was anything but an amateur at photography, as he had only to press the trigger and the Williamson camera and Ilford photographic material did the rest. Sir Ivor Philipps, Chairman of Ilford, Ltd., in asking Col. Blacker to open the exhibition , drew attention to the fact that the idea of photographing Mount Everest from the air originated in Col. Blackers mind, and was made possible by -Lady Houston's generosity. The photographs which are on view, number fifty, and give a comprehensive survey of the work done by the expedition. They start with some photographs of the personnel and equipment, including an interior view of the Houston-Westland machine. taken at Yeovil before the departure of the expedition. One of the most awe inspiring photographs is an infra-red photograph of the Mount Everest range taken at a distance of over 100 miles and at an altitude of 22.000 ft. The plain can be seen dimly in the foreground below a vast bank which fills the intervening space to where the peaks rise up in all their grandeur. Infra-red plates appear, for work like this, to give the photographs greater depth, more realism and make them as it were, more alive, which is not surprising when one realises that it is possible with these plates to get photographs even through quite thick haze. We ourselves published the earliest photographs taken from the air on Ilford infra-red plates in FLIGHT for September 2, 1932. For land work where the view includes trees and grass the infra-red plate often produces a very unusual looking photograph, but for these photographs of Everest they appear to be far better than ordinary panchromatic plates. No. 44 is of particular interest and is described as " photograph taken with one of the vertical cameras, showing the head of a glacier immediately under Mount Everest Massif," but it is really very difficult to single out any special photographs. They are all so wonderful, and we advise all our readers to see the exhibition which will remain open for the next three weeks.

June 1933
Everest Plane on View - THE Houston-Westland Everest' aeroplane and equipment is on view in the new Duke Street extension of Selfridges, Oxford Street.

FLIGHT JUNE 15, 1933
Inner History of Everest Flight MR.
E. C. SHEPHERD, Aviation Correspondent of The Times, was the guest of honour at a dinner given by Mr. E . C. Bowyer, of the Intelligence Department of the S.B.A.C. at the Royal Aero Club on June 8. .Mr. Bowyer referred to the obvious advantage it had been to send out a trained reporter to do the " story" of the Houston-Everest flight, and recalled that although Mr. Shepherd did not know anything about aviation when he took over on the death of Mr. C. L. G. Colebrook some years ago, he had managed to learn his subject in a surprisingly short time, and that now Mr. Shepherd' s articles were among the best-informed and best-written to be found in any newspaper. Mr. Shepherd disclaimed any credit for what he had done in the way of describing the Everest flights, mid said that the story " wrote itself." The people who deserved credit were those in the office of The Times. He then related some of his ex periences , which were intensely interesting to the newspaper men present. Major C. C. Turner added his praise to that of the chairman, and said that there was not a man in Fleet Street who did not envy Mr. Shepherd when they heard he was being sent to India, but it was an envy without hatred, malice or all uncharitableness. Major Oliver Stewart, of the Morning Post, in proposing the toast of the chairman, recalled that Mr. Bowyer had " started with a bad handicap " in being trained in Fleet Street, but that for all that the relations between the aircraft industry and the newspapers had been much better since Mr. Bowyer was appointed to his present office. The dinner was a small affair, was confined to newspaper men, and was thoroughly enjoyable and served to show the high esteem in which Mr.Shepherd is held by his colleagues.

FLIGHT July 1933
Dinner to Houston Everest Flight
A LUNCHEON was given to the members of the Houston Everest Flight by the British Empire Union, at the Mayfair Hotel on Tuesday, July 4. Lord Danesfort, the President of the British Empire Union, who was in the chair, said that the members of the flight had proved that the spirit of adventure was not dead in the British race. They had not only shown the highest qualities of courage, skill and enterprise, but they had also raised the name and the fame of the British race throughout the world. NIL Frank Souter, Chairman of the Union, said that the reason Lady Houston financed the expedition was to prove to the people of India that British enterprise, valour and pluck were as strong as ever. Col. L. V. Stewart Blacker told the story of an .elderly woman who wrote asking for a piece of the ark to be brought back to her from the mountain top. The flying machine, he maintained, with its ability to cement goodwill, would be the means of restoring good feeling between the peoples of India and the British Crown.

Williamson Cameras Over Everest
PHOTOGRAPHY was the main object of the Houston Everest Expedition, and the wonderful photographs which have been published indicate that the combination of Ilford panchromatic ' and infra-red plates and Williamson cameras was a most successful one. Some of the photographs have been' published in FLIGHT, and this week we give, on page 465. a Times photo of the Everest range, taken at a distance of approximately 100 miles. This photograph was taken on an Ilford infra-red plate, and shows the marvellous fog-penetrating qualities, although the clouds themselves, owing to the fact that the light is reflected from them. have photographed quite clear and distinct. An exhibition of the Everest photographs, by courtesy of The Times, was opened to the general public at the Ilford premises. 101, High Holborn, on May 17. Admission is free.
The three types of Williamson cameras used by the expedition were : the " Eagle " survey camera, which automatically takes a continuous strip of overlapping vertical pictures; the P.14 hand-held camera, and the ., Pistol ,. camera. The "Eagle" camera takes photographs measuring 5 in . by 5 in" while the P.14 size is 5 in. by 4 in. The " Pistol " camera, designed to be operated with one hand, takes pictures 21 by 3i in., and is particularly useful to the pilot who is flying solo and wishes to be able to take photographs en route while flying his aeroplane.

FLIGHT DECEMBER, 1933
More honours for Everest flyers
COL.P.T. ETHERTON, Mr. Stewart Blacker, Flt. Lt.D. F . McIntyre and F/O. R. C. W. Ellison, some of the members of the Houston-Mount Everest Flight, will be the guests of the Societe de Geographie at a dinner in Paris to-day, Thursday, and a reception on Friday, at which the President of the French Republic will be present. On Friday evening Mr. Blacker will give a lecture which he will illustrate by a part of the film of the expedition and some lantern slides. The party will fly by Air-France to Le Bourget on Thursday.

 


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