Hindustan Aeronautics claimed new helicopter high-altitude flying records last month, although it remains to be seen whether those records will be certified.
An Indian Air Force (IAF) Cheetak, a derivative of the Eurocopter SA 315 Lama, landed at Saser Kangri in India’s Ladhak region at a density altitude of 25,150 feet msl. It was piloted by HAL test pilots A.S. Butola and S. Sharma. On the same day an IAF Dhruv climbed as high as 27,000 feet. The mission was flown by HAL chief test pilot C.D. Upadhyay and copilot Unni Pillai.
Impressive as these feats are, however, they do not in fact exceed the current record. That remains at a still- astonishing density altitude of 35,629 feet, set in 1972 by Frenchmen Jean Boulet and Gérard Boutin, at the controls of another Lama.