In May 1996, during a severe snowstorm atop Mount Everest, Madan "K. C." Khatri Chhetri acquired international acclaim by achieving the highest helicopter rescue in world history. Born in 1955 in Pokhara, Nepal; K. C. was fascinated with flying throughout his childhood. At the age of 19, he attended the Army Officers Cadet Course, graduating first in his class and receiving the Sword of Honour. He served 5 years in his first tour of duty as a Signal Officer in the Signal Regiment, attending the rigorous Commando Course, the Para Jump Course, and the Counterinsurgency Course. By age 24, he was handpicked as an Army Officer Aviator and attended basic pilot training at Burn Side OTT Aviation School in Miami, Florida.
After graduating in 1981, he assumed duties in the #11 Brigade of the Royal Nepalese Army at the International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. K. C. continued to enhance his flying skills by attending pilot training courses in Great Britain, France, and Thailand. Being a worldwide traveler, K. C. became quite proficient in not only Napali (mother-tongue), but also Hindi, French, and English. Throughout his military career, K. C. has made numerous rescue and evacuation flights; helping sick, injured, and stranded climbers from inaccessible and remote niches of the Himalayas. Two of his most noteworthy rescues deserve special mention. First, in 1985, he saved 36 New Zealand tourists who were stranded at Tilechu Lake for more than two weeks without provisions.
For his courageous efforts, he was awarded the Gajendra Mokshya Medal. Then, in 1996, after his two successful rescue flights up the dangerous slopes of Mount Everest, he was awarded the Nepal Tara or "Star of Nepal," the highest military honor in his country. When asked why he risks his life for others, his response was, "If I can save one more life, my inner soul will be happier." K. C. further stated, "Some people think piloting is a glamorous job, while others say it is a daredevil or ego-fulfilling job. I do it for the simple expressions of gratitude from those I help." During his 18 years of dedicated service, he has flown a variety of rotary-wing aircraft to include the Bell 47G2, the Bell 206, the USA and Alouette III, the Puma, and the Ecureuil (Squirrel ) AS350 B2 French. In total, he has flown over 8,500 hours, including 1,000 hours as an instructor. K. C. received other meritorious awards that include, but are not limited to; the Air Service Medal, the Disaster Relief Medal (5 times), the High Altitude Medal, the Service Medal, and the Janamat Medal. To relax, he enjoys life's simple pleasures: reading, gardening, and golfing.
On 13 May 1996, a severe snowstorm took the lives of several climbers and stranded two others high atop Mount Everest. Winds gusted 20-70 miles per hour and temperatures dropped to -50oF. The two climbers were frostbitten and near death. Several civil helicopter operators refused the mission, but K. C. attempted the risky, high-altitude rescue. Climbing nearly 3,000 feet above the service ceiling of his Ecureuil (Squirrel) AS350 B2 helicopter, he succeeded at making the highest altitude rescue in a rotary wing aircraft -- not once, but twice.