|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
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.