Pilot's Grandson Retraces First Everest Flight

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Grant Dixon

KATHMANDU — The grandson of a pilot who flew the first flight over the world's highest mountain, Nepal's Mount Everest, retraced the route Wednesday to mark the 80th anniversary of the feat.

In 1933 Scottish pilot Colonel Douglas Douglas-Hamilton and two colleagues flew a pair of biplanes from the northern Indian state of Bihar to help mountaineers gain knowledge about the 8,848-metre (29,029 foot) peak.

"It was very majestic, it was spectacular. I am glad that I was able to retrace the historic flight by my grandfather," Charles Douglas-Hamilton, 33, said after returning from a morning flight to Everest on Wednesday.

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"It was astounding to see the mountain and appreciate the sort of risks taken by expedition pilots in the pursuit of advancing science and aviation," geologist Douglas-Hamilton told reporters.

The original Everest flights grabbed international headlines and a documentary film "Wings Over Everest" won an Oscar in 1934.

"The flight aimed to map Everest to allow a successful ascent and twenty years later Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay used their photographs on their historic climb," Yeti Airlines, a Kathmandu-based private airline that sells Everest flights, said in a statement.

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Hillary and Tenzing were the first men to conquer the peak, in 1953.

Half a dozen Nepalese airlines now offer the $130 "Everest Experience" package, flying passengers around the world's tallest mountain and surrounding peaks.

The early morning hour-long flights are popular among tourists, who take advantage of better weather before winds blow up snow plumes that can obscure the Himalayan panorama.