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To Ride the Mountain Winds
A History of Aerial Mountaineering and Rescue
By the end of the 18th century Mont Blanc had been climbed and man had begun to fly in balloons. In 1849 a balloonist flew over the Alps and a little over half a century later aeroplanes were also doing so. The age of aerial mountaineering had begun. Worldwide in its scope it was destined to include the first aeropostale flights across the Andes, exploration in Alaska, across the Poles and in the Himalayas, scientific investigation, and rescue. Aircraft would include flimsy biplanes and even flimsier microlights, sophisticated late 20th century balloons and helicopters large and small. Their pilots would number scientists, explorers, soldiers and civilians, men and women of adventure, and a few lunatics. To Ride the Mountain Winds, the first comprehensive history of aerial mountaineering, is written for everyone interested in the history of mountaineering and also those interested in the history of aviation and the limits to which pilots have pushed their machines and their skills.
This should include not only climbers and flyers but also those airline passengers who, while sipping a gin and tonic in the luxury of a modern airliner, far above the shining snows, have paused to wonder what might happen if their jet-propelled magic carpet were forced suddenly to descend among them. Few will have pondered the connections between the histories of mountaineers and aviators but their interaction is almost as old as either.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'This is a great book, filling in a very important part of the mountain story.' Sir Chris Bonington This volume is a comprehensive account of the history of mountain aviation, from the first intrepid balloon flights of the 18th century, through to the commercial airliners, leisure flights, military operations, and daring sport flying achievements of the 21st; and of the challenges presented by the mountains, including the hazardous winds. It is a thoroughly well researched and well written history and, as such, an important document. Above all it is a true celebration of the mountains, of aviation, and of the inextricable link between the two. Jamie Andrew, from his foreword Having spent forty years climbing on the world's mountains, I enjoyed enormously Leslie Symons's whole new perspective of mountains from above. The maps and aerial photographs we climbers rely on would never have been possible without the skill of mountain pilots. Many of us - myself included - also owe our lives to the invention of the helicopter. As for the balloonists and paragliders who brave the fickle air currents on high mountains for sport - they are just much braver than I will ever be! Stephen Venables 'For years, RAF pilots have been taking their Sea Kings into areas not usually associated with helicopters. Their contribution to mountain rescue in the Cairngorms has been immense. As this book amply demonstrates, the histories of flying and mountain rescue are intimately linked with each pushing the other forward." John Allen, former leader of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and author of Cairngorm John 'Unimaginable stories of the history, exploits, dedication, triumphs and tragedies of flying among mountains. No mountain-goer will ever look at an aeroplane or helicopter in the same way again.' Hamish Brown, author of Hamish's Mountain Walk, Hamish's Groats End Walk, and Climbing the Corbetts. 'The fear of falling, or the desire to fall into flight? The contrary drives of the climber and the flier give their relationship with mountains a mutual fascination which this book explores.' Terry Gifford, founding Director of the International Festival of Mountaineering Literature and Trustee of the Mountain Heritage Trust. 'This is an outstanding work, comprehensively charting the development of aerial mountaineering and the rescue services in mountains. I learnt a lot about the fascinating history surrounding these initiatives, and I unreservedly recommend a reading of this book.' Dennis Gray, author of From the Edge, Rope Boy and other books is a former General Secretary of the British Mountaineering Council 'If you think you know all about the history of SAR in the mountains then this IS the book for you - it will either confirm your suspicions or, I suspect, make you realise just how little you really knew. There are some wonderful, highly relevant asides too.' Brian Canfer in On the Hill, journal of the RAF Mountain Rescue Association '... a well-balanced book of interest to the aviator and mountaineer alike. But be warned, whichever way your inclinations might lie, if this book tempts you to investigate the alternative interest, you might learn something about yourself.' David Gibbings FRAeS, distinguished pilot and aviation artist, writing in Aerospace Magazine 'A terrific book, lots of new material, good photographs, both historic and current, well written and well worth reading.' Helicopter Life