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Swissboogie charter rises to greater heights for historic Everest adventure
Swissboogie Parapro is enjoying rising demand for the private adventure charter of its two PC-6s - with the historic Everest Skydive among this year's carefully planned events.

Swissboogie Parapro is enjoying rising demand for the private adventure charter of its two PC-6s - with the historic Everest Skydive among this year's carefully planned events. "If the request for aircraft missions continues to increase, we'll soon have to invest in a new aircraft," says founder Henri Schurch. He was previously in the lumber business but Swissboogie quickly grew to take up all his time. Schurch jokes: "As I am 66 years old, and Swissboogie has still a lot of growth potential, I guess I will stay in this business! But you never know..."

Nigel Gifford, mountaineer, skydiver and organiser of the Everest Skydive, says he chose Swissboogie because of the company's specialist expertise and the load, stability, power, reliability, and wide doors of the PC-6 and the mounted internal and external cameras.

Everest Skydive, which may become an annual event, is to be filmed by Leo Dickinson for distribution worldwide and will include the world's highest ever tandem charity jump to raise funds for Global Angels (globalangels.org). Swissboogie was chosen partly because of its expertise in transporting skydivers - either from its home base in Switzerland or from other countries including France and Cyprus. But it also carries out laser measuring and photo missions for topography analysis and undertakes signal transmission for live television sport events and border and ocean surveillance.

"The needs of our clients are very diversified," says Schurch. "We also work for the Swiss Air Force: every summer we train young pre-paratroopers for the civilian skydiving licence." He adds: "The demand for commercial flights is increasing every year and also the leisure flights - mostly skydiving - are very lucrative. New business sectors include monitoring the effects of global warming on the environment including tracking movements of ground in the mountains or glaciers." Schurch is excited about being involved in Everest Skydive. Organiser Nigel Gifford says: "We will decide after October 2008 whether it will become seasonal but it looks promising. The event has attracted licensed skydivers from all over the world."

They will make their way by 22 September to Kathmandu where a grass-based airstrip is being prepared at 12,350 ft. for the take offs and landing. Each party of six jumpers will be accompanied by two jump masters who will act as cameramen during freefall.

Gifford has organised the skydive on the 29,035 ft. high Mount Everest so jumpers can enjoy views into Tibet and the Khumbu glacier and icefall in Nepal. "This adventure surpasses any experience in skydiving so far," says Gifford. "Skydiving on to the North and South Poles and Angel Falls in Venezuela were fabulous and awe-inspiring adventures in their own right, and as such they were the historic building blocks for this new and exciting challenge. But the Everest Skydive pushes the boundaries harder and higher, for this is a challenge, taking skydiving into two harsh and extreme environments - high altitude plus extreme cold."

The jump dates in Nepal avoid the 200 mph jet stream that roars across Everest's summit, and the Drop Zone is the highest in the world. Swissboogie was the favoured charterer but there were lengthy discussions on logistics before hire.

Launched in 1987, Swissboogie has always operated PC-6s which Schurch says are reliable aircraft with good short take off and landing skills. "The PC-6 can carry up to 10 passengers or 1,000 kg cargo," he points out. "The Pilatus factory is based very close to our home base which is another important factor and Pilatus is a very good and trusted partner."

Expansion may bring job opportunities. But Schurch says: "Our company needs a very special kind of employee with specific abilities to manage all the diverse missions so Swissboogie educates and trains its personnel."

Peak input from specialists

The Everest Skydive, which draws on the knowledge and skills of skydivers, some of whom are also Everest mountaineers, is the culmination of two years of meticulous planning and preparation.

The team includes Leo Dickinson, adventure cameraman, who was among the first to skydive on to the North Pole, and Andy Montriou, part of the team that took the record to 357 skydivers, linked in freefall in February 2004 and then on to 400 in February 2006.

Also taking part is Andy Elson, the first balloonist to fly over Mount Everest in 1991, who designed and built capsules for international attempts to be the first to fly around the world.

Organiser Nigel Gifford is founder of the U.K.-based High and Wild and has more than 30 years experience in the professional adventure world including rafting the Great Siang gorge of the Brahmaputra in the tribal areas of India, participating in the Saami reindeer migration in the frozen North, and the first ever trek to Everest's Lho La.

Also in the party is Dave Wood, md and chief instructor of the Cornish Parachute Club, who holds the BPA Advanced Instructor Qualification, Ben Wood, freelance skydiving instructor and aerial freefall photographer, along with Ryan Duke who works as a specialist machine operator in optical materials.

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