Pilot’s TV touchdown

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At ease on Everest: Chopper rescue pilot Jason Laing heads for Camp Two. PICTURE: MIKE MADDEN

Reluctant star Jason Laing says he’d hoped a new Discovery Channel show about Everest chopper pilots would “fly under the radar”.

No chance of that – it’s being released across the world, including New Zealand, next month.

The six-part Everest Rescue series “highlights the works of a rare breed of pilots who put their lives on the line to save those facing certain death”.

It follows Queenstowner Laing and his colleagues during the 2016 climbing season in the Himalayas.

Discovered: Jason Laing
Discovered: Jason Laing

Laing says: “It’s documentary-based, so factual, nothing’s recreated.

“It took a while to get used to being followed by the crew and it presented some new challenges.

“But we had the right of refusal if we didn’t want to take anyone or didn’t want to be interviewed.”

The show has already begun airing in the United States.

Veteran Laing flies for Nepal’s Simrik Airlines, manoeuvring his B3 helicopter in the thin air of the Himalayas. It’s one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet.

The show films Laing at the beginning of the season in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, with his partner Robyn and now two-year-old daughter Tara.

It then charts the nail-biting rescue of 20 climbers stranded in a storm in a remote area of Mt Everest as night approaches.

Laing, in the show, says he tries “… real hard to put all emotions aside”.

“Darkness isn’t too far away. I’m worried they will die tonight.”

The show also chronicles the pilots’ work helping people from local villages.

“It was actually a successful season, quiet, which is good for Nepal.”

Laing was flown to London a few months back for a screening of the first two episodes and press interviews.

“I was hoping to be under the radar – it takes me a while to warm to things like that.

“But they treated us very well.”

There are murmurs of a second series.

“I don’t know yet, they’re pretty secretive.”

Laing talks on camera about his experiences evacuating stranded climbers after the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015.

The year before, he flew emergency flights and recovered bodies after the avalanche at Khumbu Icefall, which killed 16 Sherpas.

Virtual reality extras will be available on DiscoveryVR.com.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz