Missing Aircraft Located In The Antarctic, Crew Lost

Search and rescue teams have located the missing aircraft that went down in Antarctica last week after being stymied for several days due to bad weather. A SAR team out of New Zealand spotted the plane from the air over the weekend and described the crash as “not survivable.” A search group consisting of specialists from that country and the U.S. was able to approach the DH-6 Twin Otter airplane yesterday, where they recovered its flight recorder and other parts. The mission was quickly called off, however, due to unsafe conditions surrounding the wreckage.

The plane was making a routine supply run from the South Pole to an Italian base located near Terra Nova Bay last Thursday when it went down, immediately activating its emergency locator beacon. Winds in excess of 100 mph and heavy snow prevented any kind of rescue operation from being mounted at the time, so SAR teams and anxious family members could only watch and wait. Once the weather improved, however, the plane was spotted on a steep mountain face near the summit of Mt. Elizabeth, a 14,698-foot peak located in the Queen Alexandra Range. It appears that it flew directly into the mountain with none of the crew surviving the impact.

Because of its location on the mountain, the plane is in an unstable position, making it unsafe to approach right now. With that in mind, search operations were called off yesterday with teams returning to their bases. The bodies of the three crew members will stay onboard the aircraft until they can be safely retrieved at a future date.

The Twin Otter aircraft was owned and operated by Kenn Borek Air based out of Calgary. The company specializes in flying scientists, explorers and adventurers to remote locations all over the globe. The pilot, Bob Heath, had a great deal of experience flying in polar conditions.

Our condolences to the friends and families of those who were killed in this crash.

[Photo Credit: Spencer Klein, NSF]

Aircraft Goes Missing In The Antarctic

A small aircraft carrying three crew members has gone missing in the Antarctic. The plane, which is operated by Kenn Borek Air, was flying from the South Pole to Terra Nova Bay when it went down, immediately setting off its emergency locator beacon. There is no word on the condition of the three men at this time.

The Twin Otter aircraft that the crew was flying is used to make routine supply runs and shuttle scientists, explorers and adventure tourists to various research stations and camps in Antarctica. The plane was on its way to an Italian base when it went down over a remote mountain range.

Poor weather in the area is preventing search and rescue teams from mounting any kind of operation at the moment. The region where the plane crashed is being hit with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour and heavy snow is expected to fall there as well. The locator beacon indicates that the aircraft is in a zone that is under New Zealand’s SAR jurisdiction, but Canadian, American and Italian teams are standing by to lend assistance once the weather improves.

Kenn Borek Air operates with a motto of “anytime, anywhere” and is known for flying explorers, adventurers and scientists to very remote corners of the globe. Their fleet of aircraft includes a number of Twin Otter planes, which are highly regarded for their versatility and reliability, even under the most challenging of circumstances. Kenn Borek pilots and crew are also very experienced professionals who are accustomed to dealing with bad weather in challenging environments.

The aircraft that went down is equipped with survival gear for extreme conditions and enough food and water to last at least five days. With a little luck, the crew managed to put the plane down safely and are now simply waiting for assistance.

[Photo Credit: Kenn Borek Air]