Five Months After Antarctic Plane Crash, Crew Declared Dead

Antarctic plane crash on Mount Elizabeth
Drew Coleman/Antarctic NZ

Three crew members who were aboard an aircraft that went down in the Antarctic this past January were officially declared dead by a coroner in New Zealand this week as the inquiry into the accident got underway. The small Twin Otter airplane was en route from the South Pole to an Italian research station near Terra Nova Bay when it crashed into the side of a mountain. Pilot Bob Heath, as well as crew members Mike Denton and Perry Anderson, all lost their lives in the crash.

The fatal accident is under investigation by the Canadian Transport Board but since the plane went down in an area of Antarctica that is under the jurisdiction of New Zealand, a coroner from that country had to make the official pronunciation of the death of the crew. During the inquiry, it was revealed that the plane took off on schedule and that the pilot was checking in every hour of the flight as expected. There were no indications of any problems at all right up until the moment that the emergency beacon went off.

While the report hasn’t been able to reveal any mechanical issues with the aircraft, the judge overhearing the investigation stopped short of saying pilot error was the cause of the plane crash. Instead, he seemed to place the blame on the harsh conditions in Antarctica, which could pose problems even for very experienced pilots.The judge also expressed his admiration for the search and rescue teams that put their lives on the line in an attempt to find the missing plane in January. When the aircraft went down, a multinational effort was launched with the hopes of finding survivors. A SAR team even climbed the treacherous slopes of Mount Elizabeth to get a first hand account of the crash site.

Another team is planning to return in October to recover the bodies of the three men which were impossible to retrieve in the deteriorating conditions at the time.

Video: New Zealand Time-Lapse

Flights to New Zealand from the USA are expensive. Thankfully, I have expertly created time-lapses to hold me over until I can get myself out to the seemingly mythical and definitely awe-inspiring country. This time-lapse by Bevan Percival is gorgeous. The images in the film were shot during 2012 over the course of two months spent in the North Island of New Zealand. Rushing fog over steep and lush hillsides is met with startling views of jagged mountains against nearly barren expanses of desert. Scenes like these make this video the beautiful work of art it is. Enjoy.

[Thanks, Laughing Squid]

New Zealand Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Photo Of The Day: Milford Sound, New Zealand

New Zealand seems to be infinitely photogenic and these unbelievable fjords in Milford Sound are an astounding testament to that notion. Taken by Andrea Schaffer, this image gets me incredibly excited about different ideas for traveling the North and South Islands. I’m now filled with daydreams of jetting off to below the equator and living in a campervan.

You too can have your photography featured here on Gadling as our Photo of the Day by submitting it either to our Gadling Flickr Group or by mentioning us on Instagram, @GadlingTravel, and tagging your photo with #gadling.

[Photo Credit: Flickr User Andrea Schaffer]

Video: The Stunning Landscapes Of New Zealand In Timelapse

Considered one of the great adventure travel destinations on Earth, New Zealand is a country known for its stunning landscapes and breathtaking vistas. Nowhere is that more evident than in the video below, which simply put is 5+ minutes of jaw-dropping imagery. Shot entirely on the North Island, the video offers enticing shots of snow-capped mountains, beautiful shorelines and verdant forests.

Warning: the contents of this video may inspire you to board a plane to New Zealand. Gadling is not responsible for the sudden onset of terminal wanderlust (although we do wholeheartedly support it!).


La Paz’s Urban Rush Introduces Rap Jumping To South America

urban rushAustralia and New Zealand are generally accepted as having cornered the market on bizarre adventure activities, especially in urban areas. Unsurprising, then, that Alistair Matthew, the Kiwi founder of La Paz’s ginormously successful, groundbreaking Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, has brought a bit of the Antipodes to Bolivia’s capital city.

A year ago, inspired by a similar enterprise in Melbourne, Matthew launched Urban Rush. The sport, also known as rap jumping, entails rappelling – preferably face-first – down the side of a 17-story building in central La Paz (the view, FYI, is spectacular; it’s across the street from the colonial stunner that is the San Francisco Church), and provides views of the tenaciously perched brick houses of El Alto. The kicker, however, is that the final six stories are in free fall (that’s me, above, about five stories before taking the plunge).

It’s not as sketchy as it sounds. In addition to your own power (meaning you have a brake and a guide hand), there’s an experienced guide belaying you from below, and another controlling you from the top. So even if you were to let go completely, you’ve got two ropes as backup.

The aforementioned building is the Hotel Presidente, La Paz’s finest. That only makes for more fun, as costume-clad, thrill-seeking, dirtbag backpackers traipse through the stylish 15th floor restaurant and bar in order to access the small penthouse space where suiting up and training take place.

Costumes? Si. In addition to the standard bright orange jumpsuits, you can leap out of the hotel dressed as Spiderman, Captain America, Santa Claus or Cat Woman, masks included. Why? Who cares?la pazI serendipitously found myself watching a Spiderman launch himself out of the penthouse yesterday afternoon, while out with Gravity’s office manager, Jill Benton. She had a hunch this would be right up my alley, and sure enough, I soon found myself zipping up a jumpsuit (no heroic attire; I just wanted to survive the experience; the view from the top, at right).

In all seriousness, Gravity’s guide/instructors are experienced employees and the equipment is all top-of-the-line. I’ve done a bit of climbing and abseiling, but never have I contemplated a face-first rappel, let alone in the middle of a bustling city. In fact, I have a deathly fear of jumping off of or out of things in urban areas (because, you know, death hurts less when you’re out in nature).

After strapping on my helmet and having my harnesses fitted, instructor Andrea didurban rush some practice maneuvers, first on the ground and then on a six-foot wall (right). When I felt ready to bail out that window, it was at first tentatively, and not very gracefully. Having hundreds of spectators on the ground didn’t do much to increase my performance anxiety.

While my technique may have been a Fail (I weigh just under 100 pounds, and that made it difficult for me to hop my way down, rather than roll), it was a total blast. The free fall was definitely one of my adventure activity lifetime highlights: few things can beat plummeting at warp speed upon the Easter shoppers of La Paz.

A half-hour later, still trembling with adrenalin (which is why my photo of the hotel, below, is crooked), I was headed back to my hostel across Plaza San hotel presidenteFrancisco, an uncontrollable smile on my face. Bolivia certainly has no shortage of outdoor adventure sports, but should you find yourself with a little afternoon downtime in La Paz, you’d be simply crazy not to take a flying leap out of the Hotel Presidente.

Urban Rush, 1-5 p.m., daily; book in advance or just drop by the hotel, at Potosí St., 920. It’s just $20 for one drop, $30 for two (note that due to fluctuating exchange rates these prices may change).

[Photo credits: Jill Benton/Laurel Miller]