Canadian Antarctica Support Flight Missing

Thursday, January 24, 2013
By George Hatcher

On January 23, 2013, a Kenn Borek Air de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter was en route from the South Pole to Terra Nova Bay when it went missing en route, somewhere around Northern end, Queen Alexandra Range, Antarctica.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand is coordinating the search.

Three Canadians were aboard. The pilot is Captain Bob Heath, a Canadian with 25 years of Arctic and Antarctic experience. His plane was carrying survival tent and equipment and 5 day food supply.

The flight was a support mission from Amundson-Scott South Pole Base (USA) to an Italian base at Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica. A distress beacon sounded but a C-130 sweep sent by United States authorities at McMurdo failed to detect the plane. The beacon activated at around 10pm Wednesday night from the northern end of the Queen Alexandra Range, during hurricane force winds blowing slow below at temperatures below zero.

A DC-3 circled for five hours in heavy snow and 190 km winds.

A Twin Otter was scheduled to take off at around 8am NZ Time from McMurdo Station to fly over and establish a forward base approximately 50km from the mountainous area where the beacon is sounding, but weather may be prohibitive. A joint New Zealand and US field rescue team is planning a helicopter rescue as soon as weather permits.
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