Mawson’s fearless FTO Mark Savage led evening field trips over recent days giving Mawson expeditioners a chance to see the ruins of the old Russian aircraft (a Lisunov Li-2, a version of DC3).
In 1965, the plane was damaged while trying to take off from the plateau and flipped over during a blizzard, marking the end of its flying days. The crushed and twisted wreck remains visible today, slowly being carried down the plateau in the ice.
It is rumoured that the pilot was dismissed from the Soviet Antarctic Program and sent to Siberia for a month, a cruel punishment for such a small mistake. His fate beyond that is unknown.
Visitors had to rope up for glacier travel and it’s rumoured one expeditioner may have stepped into a small crevasse. Mawson summer resident Stay was excited by her first trip to the plane. ‘I’ve been hearing about that wreck since the early 1990s, so it was about time someone got me out there,’ she said.
Unlike other (human) expeditioners, Stay took her own unique approach to safety. ‘Thinking ahead, I sharpened my claws down at the Rosella building, so I didn’t need to bother with those ugly crampon thingies’.
And as an independent dog she was not about to be roped up with a group of clumsy humans. ‘My claws, and my natural agility and nimbleness meant I could look after my own safety. Of course, I would have been the first on paw in a SAR situation, had one transpired.’
Although always appreciative of Donna’s fabulous cooking, Stay nevertheless took her own supply of dog biscuits, and slung a small barrel around her neck — which she insists contained water.
Jane Allen and Jesse Blackadder