Didier Delsalle (born May 6, 1957, in Aix-en-Provence, France) is a fighter pilot and helicopter test pilot. On May 14, 2005, he became the first (and only) person to land a helicopter, the Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel, on the 8,848 m (29,030 ft) summit of Mount Everest.[1]

Didier Delsalle
Didier Delsalle

(1957-05-06) May 6, 1957 (age 67)
OccupationTest pilot

Career edit

Didier Delsalle joined the French Air Force in 1979 as a fighter pilot. Two years later he became a helicopter pilot, participating in search and rescue operations for the next ten years. Delsalle then worked for five years as a test pilot and instructor at the EPNER test pilot school in Istres, France. Delsalle was then hired by Eurocopter, the world's largest helicopter supplier and a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, as chief test pilot responsible for small helicopters of the single-engine family, and later for the larger NH90 helicopters that were being developed (now in service) for numerous armed forces.

Mount Everest summit landing edit

On May 14, 2005, at 07:08 NPT in the early morning (01:23 UTC), Delsalle set the world record for highest altitude landing of a helicopter when his Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel touched down on the 8,848 m (29,029 ft) summit of Mount Everest.[1] The flight and the summit landing were recorded by a multitude of cameras and other equipment to validate the record. After sitting on top of the world for 3 minutes and 50 seconds,[2] Delsalle lifted off and returned to the Tenzing-Hillary Airport at Lukla, Nepal.[3][4]

This accomplishment had required extensive testing on site, especially because of the low atmospheric pressure available for the helicopter rotors, winds over 299 km/h (186 mph) at these altitudes, and oxygen depletion for both Delsalle and his helicopter's engine. Delsalle had to find areas of downdrafts and updrafts to complete the flight, stating: "I found an updraft so strong that I could rise up with almost no power."

Delsalle repeated the Everest summit landing the next day, May 15, 2005, to prove that the previous day had not been simple luck. Conditions the second day were much more difficult, but Delsalle chose not to wait any longer so as not to squander the opportunity for 'conventional' climbers waiting to summit Everest during the limited good weather conditions available in May.

Delsalle used a virtually standard version of the Eurocopter, only removing unnecessary elements, such as passenger seats, to reduce the standard weight by 120 kg (265 lb) and thus extend the fuel range by an additional hour.[5]

World records for helicopter flight edit

  • Speed record of ascension to 3,000 m (9,843 ft), 2 min 21 sec, set May 14, 2005.[6]
  • Speed record of ascension to 6,000 m (19,690 ft), 5 min 06 sec, set May 14, 2005.[7]
  • Speed record of ascension to 9,000 m (29,530 ft), 9 min 26 sec, set May 14, 2005.[8]
  • Record of highest take-off, 8,848 m (29,030 ft), from the summit of Mount Everest, set May 14, 2005.[9]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Landing on Air". National Geographic Adventure. 2005-09-01. Archived from the original on 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  2. ^ "First Helicopter Landing on Everest's Summit @ National Geographic Adventure Magazine". National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  3. ^ The Helicopter land on Everest with video Archived 2005-06-04 at Bibliotheca AlexandrinaEverest News
  4. ^ "French Everest Mystery Chopper's Utopia summit". MountEverest.net. 27 May 2005. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Can a Helicopter Fly to the Top of Mount Everest? (Yes, But It Shouldn't)". EXECUTIVE FLYERS. 2022-03-29. Retrieved 2022-09-28.
  6. ^ "Didier Delsalle (FRA) (11323)". www.fai.org. 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  7. ^ "Didier Delsalle (FRA) (11325)". www.fai.org. 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  8. ^ "Didier Delsalle (FRA) (11326)". www.fai.org. 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  9. ^ "Didier Delsalle (FRA) (11596)". www.fai.org. 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2021-03-24.

External links edit