Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You want to do what?

Give me that idea again, you want to fix a propeller to a motor cycle engine, carry that engine on your back whilst grabbing a parachute to fly over the top of Mount Everest ? Are you stupid or is this an April Fools joke? No, this was Mission Everest.

Click the link above and you will find out about the documentary I saw on Channel 4 television last night. Daft as it may seem but Bear Grylss and his friend Gilo Cardozo had a go at this challenge. What the viewer got was a wonderful inspiring documentary about the achievement of childhood dreams.

This pair of adventurers had a wonderful time on their voyage of discovery. It was not plain sailing for either of them and there were many pitfalls along the way. Both men put great strain on their relationships with their wives. They both worked long hours getting this project to happen. This whole idea was fraught with tremendous danger, danger of death to both men as it is easy to get their parachutes twisted which would result in them falling like a stone to their deaths. On the trial in a wind tunnel Gilo Cardozo forgot to put anti-freeze in his paramotor, with the obvious engine failure. On a test flight one of the parachutes got twisted and it was a life and death struggle to untangle the leads before Bear Grylss crashed to his death in a Wiltshire field.

When they set off from the UK they both knew about the dangers involved and that death was a serious reality. It was very moving the scene at the airport when Bear Grylss said a very tearful goodbye to his wife and children. It was clear to the viewer that his wife felt that this would be the last time ever she would see her husband alive.

They had a tense wait for the weather to clear for their challenge. Their safety margins were very slim and they aborted their first opportunity on a vote. It would have been extremely foolish to have gone in those circumstances. But their were more pitfalls to come. Computer failure with their weather monitoring balloon lost them vital launch time. When they took off the wind made radio communication virtually inaudible. At higher altitudes their altimeters and GPS devices froze and failed so their actual achieved heights were not recorded. As if nothing else could go wrong the supercharger drive belt on Gilo Cardozo's paramotor failed which meant he had to parachute back down to earth. Bear Grylss continued upwards but his height was not recorded. The viewer is left with the feeling that all things being equal Bear Grylss succeeded in flying higher than Mount Everest. Both men had a successful landing with no injuries. They had pulled off their challenge, much to the relief of their families and support team. The viewer was left on the edge of their sofa in the safety and comfort of their own homes. What a programme, brilliant. Well done guys, you did it and you made the viewers proud to be British. You showed that British stiff upper lip and determination to succeed when the going gets tough, very tough and cold.
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