Soaring Over the Himalayan Mountains

Features Issue 106 Aug, 2010
Text by Dinesh Rai / Photo: ECS Media

W   hen I got the chance to go for the Everest Flight, it was a wish fulfilled. Just the thought of flying over the Himalayas… it seemed unbelievable. It’s a view even mountaineers are not privileged enough to see, although they spend months in freezing temperatures enduring the harsh weather and extreme hardship in the increasingly thinning air. How fortunate we were to just hop on a plane and take off towards the world’s highest peaks.

One of the extraordinary mountain range views enjoyed by participants

of the Everest Flight.

We were booked on Yeti Airlines’ Flight OY-302, scheduled to take off at 6:45 am. I reached the airport at 5:40 for check-in and met my photographer friend at the entrance. As we sat around waiting, we opted for coffee. It was refreshing after having gotten up an hour ahead of my usual wake-up time. We walked into the lounge and waited for the announcement. It was buzzing with tourists and most, like us, were bound for the snowy peaks. The first flight took off, and we waited anxiously as the airline attendant had informed us that the pilot would send us a report on the weather conditions up in the mountains. We didn’t have to wait long before the attendant announced with a beaming smile, “The weather is good and you are up next.”

The bus took us to the tarmac and soon there were flashes all around as many wanted to remember this special flight they were about to embark upon. Everybody was excited at the prospect of seeing these world famous mountain peaks from up close. One Italian went “Woooo!” and animatedly pointed out the mountains that were visible from the tarmac itself. You can imagine what thrill this man got when he later saw rows and rows of snowy peaks from the air.

The soaring, craggy Himalayan peaks seem almost close
enough to touch from the airplane window

We finally took off, leaving the reddish-brown box-like buildings of Kathmandu behind and the mountains came immediately into view. Soon the stewardess was going from seat to seat patiently pointing out the various mountains as they came into our line of sight. “There’s Langtang,” she was saying, and I couldn’t help but think of how close I had been to Langtang Lirung (7,246 m) when I stood on top of Kyanjin Ri. It’s easy to fall in love with the mountains; they look mysterious, pristine, tranquil and beautiful.

All the passengers around the plane were either gazing out the window or taking pictures. The mountains were getting bigger as we flew eastwards toward the tallest of them all, Mt. Everest (8,848 m). The stewardess was busy pointing out peak after peak, “That pointed one over there, that’s Gauri Shankar, and the one with the flat top, that’s Melungtse.” We had been given brochures with a map that showed the entire range of mountains we were going to see. Flying beside those mountains was exhilarating, and when Mt. Everest was coming nearer, the pilot invited the passengers to take turns visiting the cockpit. I couldn’t bear to wait for my turn, but it finally came. What a glorious view! There were rows and rows of seemingly endless mountain chains fading away into the horizon. From the pilot’s perch, we could enjoy more than a 180° view. It was simply amazing. There seemed to be snow-covered mountains everywhere we looked. The pilot pointed out Everest and Lhotse (8,516 m), and far in the east, Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), the third highest mountain in the world.

Everest looked surprisingly white, covered in a thin layer of snow. It stood majestically, towering high above the rest and we seemed level with it. I was reluctant to leave the cockpit, but it was time for someone else to take my place. The tourists couldn’t stop clicking and had to be told several times before they retreated to their seats. Such is the fascination for Everest.

View from the cockpit

Sitting all around us were Italian, German and some Taiwanese tourists chattering away, expressing their delight every time a new peak came into the window frame. But although I thought the flight was over, we were soon flying over some lesser peaks. To everyone’s delight, the plane was actually flying over the mountains. Down below us were serene glacial lakes, glaciers and soft snow covering the peaks like icing on a giant cake. This magnificent view from above is incomparable and something beyond my dreams. And its beauty, beyond words.

Sitting next to me was Angelo Pazzini, an Italian from Naples who hadn’t seen anything bigger than the Alps. When asked how it felt, he enthused, “It’s fantastic, unbelievable! Your mountains are so beautiful and so tall!”

“This flight is an amazing experience, I’ll never forget it,” he added.

Just then, the stewardess came around distributing certificates that had the name of each passenger on it, stating that we had been on the Everest Flight with Yeti Airlines – a reminder of this spectacular flight.

We were soon on our way back, and there were more views of the same mountains but now in reverse order. Langtang was the last to appear and then we were flying over Kathmandu. As we were landing, I looked around and saw there was contentment in the faces of these visitors to Nepal. Now they can go back home and boast, “I flew over the biggest chain of mountains in the world.”  

The tickets for the mountain flight were courtesy of Yeti Airlines.