site's logo / logo du site .back

The Himalayas Conquered by Plane!

inner pages decorative picture

(What follows is a purely fictitious tale of how a journalist of the Times of London might have retraced, by November 1931, the first crossing ever by plane of the Himalayas, between Katmandu, Nepal and Chigatse, Tibet)

The Himalayas Vainquished by Plane! Bombay. November 18th, 1931

The Himalayas have eventually been vainquished by plane! Edward Ramingley, a pilot for the Imperial Airlines, successfully managed to fly over the Nepalese Himalayas through the Tong-la pass, flying from Katmandu, Nepal, to Chigatse, Tibet. A proof that a new, facilitating, aerial route can be opened, linking Bombay, the capital of Indias, to Tibet! This is another landmark date in the history of aviation. Here is following the tale of that historic flight! On November 16th, by midday, the Meteor Bristol a sturdy raid airplane specially ordered by the Imperial Airlines to the airplane manufacturer Bristol, took his alignment on the landing strip of the Katmandu airfield

Mount Everest in 1913, an illustration for the tale The Himalayas Conquered by Plane!

Katmandu already is lying at an altitude of 4900 ft! The pilot came to throttle up the plane, which accelerated on the strip, and came to its takeoff speed. It then became airborne, its silver carlingue shining under the midday sun. After a large turn to the right, the 'Mount of Indias' eventually disappeared from the view of the public, heading East, to where some valleys are bringing to the entrance of the Tong-la pass. Ramingley sucessfully took the yacks' trail like a easy spot to find his way. As the trail is hidden from view by the jungle in the lower stretches of the pass, it becomes neatly visible once the plateaus of Tibet are reached. The merchants from India and Nepal to Tibet are using that trail both directions since centuries. From there just one small outpost along the trail, is featuring a radio operating system, and could radio us to Katmandu that Ramingley had successfully passed above them. This occurred by 1:30 p.m. The message reported that the plane was flying at a high altitude above and that the engine seemed working regularly. Edward Ramingley landed at Chigatse on a makeshift airfield in the neighbourhood of that small city of 2,000 by about 3 p.m. in the afternoon of November 16th! He thus became the first aviator ever to have successfully crossed over the Himalayas and, altogether, established the first steps of an aerial airline linking Indias to Tibet!

The Makalu in 1913, an illustration for the tale The Himalayas Conquered by Plane!

When we could hear from Edward Ramingley, via the telegraph shop in Chigatse, he could tell us more about the flight. According to him, the flight is more about the Tibetan plateau than, strictly about passing the Himalaya. 'The fact, he said, is that once the Tong La pass is passed, one never can fly the plane lower than 13,200 ft, which is relatively high in a sense and which needs a proper and swift physical adaptation to the altitude during when one is climbing the pass. After that, the landscapes are marvelous with sorts of very large, and flat valleys which about naturally leads you to Chigatse!' The pilot had to fly his plane up to 18,700 ft to be able to fly over the Tong La pass as the flight, in total, took 3 hours. Edward Ramingley, when young, had been captivated by the photographs of the Nepalese Hymalayas, which his uncle, Major Jeffrey Thomson-Davidson, a major in the Army of Indias, had taken, like a member of the Thomas-Hardy expedition in 1913 A lack of a safe and rapid liaison between Bombay and Tibet always had been a want both to England and to this little, friendly country of the Himalayas. From Katmandu, for example, it was taking about 7 days of a sturdy march into the valleys and passes of the Himalaya to reach Lhassa, the capital of Tibet

The Manaslu in 1913, an illustration for the tale The Himalayas Conquered by Plane!

Now, the exploit of Edward Ramingley is putting Lhassa to a half day of plane only, and within a reach of 3 days from Bombay only! The first plane ever to fly in Indias was the one of Lord Thomas J. Kelmore, 5th viscount of Marbury, when he had taken one from England in 1911. He was then residing in Lahore. Some more planes came into existence in the subcontinent after WWI, most of them owned by the civilian administration, or by some army batalions, for reconnaissance purposes. Himalaya too now has been reached by planes!

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Lessons In Microsoft Flight Simulator / Leçons de vol pour les Flight Simulator de Microsoft, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 12/28/2010. contact us at
Free Web Hosting