Search and rescue teams from New Zealand are looking for survivors of a plane crash that took place in the Antarctic yesterday. The plane, which was operated by Kenn Borek Air, was on a routine flight from the South Pole to an Italian research station near Terra Nova Bay when it went down, activating its automatic locator beacon.Early efforts to reach the crash site were thwarted by bad weather however, leaving SAR teams to wait for an opportunity to bgin their operations.The plane in question was a de Havilland Twin Otter aircraft which are well known for being tough, reliable and versatile. They are used across the globe to deliver passengers and cargo to remote destinations such at the Himalaya or the polar regions. Kenn Borek Air uses these planes to shuttle scientists and explorers between research stations and various camps in the Antarctic. This particular aircraft was headed to the Italian base with three crew members aboard.
The cause of the accident remains unknown at this time, but we do know that the plane went down in a mountainous region that falls within the New Zealand search and rescue zone. A SAR team from that country was ready to leap into action but poor weather moved into the area, preventing any kind of operation from getting underway. Not long after the emergency locator beacon was activated, heavy snow and high winds (in excess of 100 mph) were battering the crash site, making a rescue impossible. The bad weather has since subsided, allowing search planes to commence flyovers of the region.
The crew of the aircraft are trained in polar survival and their plane is stocked with gear to keep them safe in the extreme conditions found at the South Pole. Additionally, the Twin Otter carries enough food and water to last for five days, which gives rescuers hope that the three men aboard the aircraft are alive and well, and are simply waiting for someone to come find them.
For more than 40 years Kenn Borek Air has been delivering adventurers, explorers and researchers to some of the more hard to reach places on the planet. The company operates with the motto “anytime, anywhere” and over years that approach has served them well. Their fleet of aircraft are specially designed and modified to operate safely in extreme conditions and their pilots are amongst the best in the business. It is possible that the man flying this plane was able to set it down safely.
For now, we wait to see what the search and rescue teams discover, but lets hope they have good news for us.
By Kraig Becker