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Valley Public Radio Staff
Sun October 27, 2013
Man With MS Skydives Onto Mount Everest: 'I Feel Very Happy'
Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 5:27 am
From the list of things a person with multiple sclerosis can't do, we must erase "skydive onto Mount Everest." That's because Frenchman Marc Kopp, 55, reportedly jumped from an aircraft at an altitude of some 32,000 feet before landing on the mountain this weekend.
"I feel very happy. I am exhausted but very happy," Kopp tells Agence France-Presse from Kathmandu, where he's being examined by doctors after his tandem jump with his friend, accomplished skydiver Mario Gervasi. The news agency says he's the first disabled person to skydive directly over the world's tallest mountain.
Update at 10 p.m. ET: Clarifying the aircraft.
We've changed the wording at the top of this post to acknowledge the uncertainty over the aircraft used. French media report that the skydivers were aboard a helicopter. We discuss that detail in the comments below.
Our original post continues:
Kopp, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001, traveled on horseback to reach the heliport where he took off to make his leap — an exhausting process for the man who often uses a wheelchair.
"There were many times in the last few days when I thought I wouldn't be able to realize my dream," he tells the AFP.
For the first few thousand feet of his descent, Kopp and Gervasi were in a free-fall. They landed on a specially prepared platform at about half of Everest's height of 29,029 feet, according to reports.
"I hope my action will inspire others living with this illness. I hope many more will follow in my footsteps," Kopp said.
Kopp, who suffers from primary progressive multiple sclerosis, has gradually lost the use of most of his right side, according to French newspaper Le Parisien. He runs a support group for others with the disease.