Douglas Jr retraces grandpas historic flight

The excitement could hardly be contained as we waited on the tarmac for a flight that would retrace the first flight over Everest 80 years ago. Perhaps the most excited, and also a little nervous, was Charles Douglas-Hamilton, grandson of Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, one of the two Scot pilots who were the first men to look down at the peak of Everest.

A special group of invitees and members of the press joined him on this special Yeti Airlines flight. Sportingly and patiently Douglas-Hamilton posed for cameras and television crew and handed out quotes and answered queries as we waited word from the airline to board. Everest was covered by clouds and we kept our fingers crossed. A few moments later we got word to board and were airborne in no time.

Our first view of the snow covered mountains was breathtaking and as we approached Everest, Douglas Hamilton joined the pilots in the cockpit to view and photograph the approaching mountain as his grandfather did 80 years ago. There is something about Everest that stirs the soul. Though I had seen Everest from an aircraft many times, the thrill of approaching Everest is always a new one. The aircraft circled Everest four times and each time offered a spectacular view of Everest and the surrounding peaks.

This was a fitting tribute to the two men who 80 years ago challenged themselves to fly their Houston - Westland and Westland -Wallace open cockpit bi-planes with oxygen masks and special warm suits over a peak never crossed before. Significantly, the Yeti Airlines Jetstream 41 aircraft we were in is manufactured by the very company founded by McIntyre and Douglas - Hamilton after their Everest adventure - Scottish Aviation Ltd.

When it was time to return after circling in the Everest region for almost 40 minutes, I felt humbled by the majestic Himalayas now so close outside the window. I asked Douglas-Hamilton what he felt. Despite the clicking of cameras and din of excited passengers, he looked out of the window one more time and said, "Unbelievable! And to think my grandfather cleared the summit of Everest by just a few feet in an aircraft with an open cockpit!"

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