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Annapurna High 2000
Czech Ultralight Expedition

ultralight flight over the 8,091 meter high Annapurna peak


Expedition History

Jan Bém's first attempted to fly over an 8,000+ meter high mountain took place in 1993. The goal then was a flight over Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. After five years of preparations and flights, however, the peak remained elusive. **Engine trouble with the Rotax 912, a pre-production version of which was being used by the expedition, occurred on one of the flights.** The crew eventually settled for the conquering of the **alespron peak** Amadablam (6,856 meters).

In 2000 the expedition returned to the Himalayas, this time equipped with a new motor - the Rotaxem 914. Because of Mt. Everest's location between Nepal and China, it was now impossible to get legal permissions to fly over the peak. The expedition therefore set its sights on the Annapurna peak (8,091 meters).

The ultralight was airlifted to Nepal by Aerofloat, **the only company capable of transporting heavy cargo to such a remote region.** The airstrip in Pokhara, a town in the valley of Annapurna Sanctuary, served as home base to the expedition. The first flight out of Pokhara airport was made by Jan Bém on September 25, 2000. Preparations then began in earnest for the record overflight. It would be necessary to test the new engine in these extreme conditions ensuring all of its systems worked reliably. In addition, the oxygen supply, communication radio, heating, and other systems needed to be thoroughly tested.

By September 29th, most of the testing and preparations were complete, though not quite all. However, the weather made it impossible to wait any further. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, Jan Bém took off just before 7:00 pm local time. Wind speed at the altitude he would need to reach for the overflight, 8,400 meters, was 90 km/hour, the temperature minus 35 degrees Celsius. After 45 minutes he victoriously flew over the peak of Annapurna I. After a much longer return leg, he landed safely back at Pokhara airport.

The crew of Annapurna High 2000 would like to thank everyone who helped with this expedition.

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Written by Patrik Sainer, translation by Alesh Houdek
Annapurna High 2000 Expedition, e-mail: annapurnahigh@hotmail.com
Web design: (c)2000 Avion, Patrik Sainer, webmaster: