Mount Everest

milky-way-and-mountain

Mount Everest, another of the 8 murals done by Xavier Gonzalez in 1938 for the New Orleans then-named Shushan Airport, depicts the first flight over Mount Everest, Nepal.  The Houston-Mount Everest expedition was led by Air-Commander P. F. M. Fellowes, and was carried out by two “specially built Westland planes, powered with supercharged Bristol Pegasus radial motors” (Save the Murals, Friends of New Orleans Lakefront Airport).

On April 3 [1933] the conquest of Everest was made by the two aeroplanes of the Houston, Mount Everest Expedition, with the marquis of Clydesdale as chief pilot. Flying to a height of 30,000 feet, clearing the summit of Everest, by a bare margin of only 100 feet, the planes carried pilots and camera men to their goal.

The arerial conquest of Everest was no job of simple flying. The altitudes that needed to be reached were in themselves a terrific problem. The snow-plumed crest of Mount Everest rises to a height of 29,141 feet.  To clear this summit safely and allow for the danger of down draughts, the planes had to have a ceiling of 33,000 feet.  They actually reached 34,500 on one of the flights, six and one-half miles.  They had to be able to climb fast because of the limited amount of life-giving oxygen that could be carried. (Exeter: Thrilling story of flight over world’s highest mountain. The Portsmouth Herald, October 19, 1933, p. 7)

Erika Katayama’s (2009) Master’s thesis in art, Louisiana State University recounts:

…Gonzalez envisioned imagery outlining the development of aviation and its influence on modern civililization in eight wall murals mounted on the mezzanine.

Gonzalez was selected for the task of creating a series of murals for the Art Deco terminal building in a competition…By all accounts, Shushan and the architects gave Gonzalez comfortable leeway on how to interpret the theme of aerial transportation’s increasing influence on humanity. (p. 8-9)

mount-everest-flight-1933

Pretty far cry from Icarus flying too close to the sun and melting the wax in his wings, isn’t it?

 

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4 Responses to Mount Everest

  1. socialbridge says:

    I think I’m getting there!

    • Suzassippi says:

      I have been finding it absolutely fascinating to locate the newspaper articles about these “first flights.” Truly, imagine the level of perseverance, motivation, and drive it must have taken to achieve these results!

  2. Sheryl says:

    I’m enjoying this walk through the history of various “first flights.” Except for Lindbergh’s flight I know little about the various first flights.

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