Expeditioners visit the old crash site of a Russian aircraft

SAR training and some interesting sightseeing

Emergency response training is a regular part of life ‘down south’ and the Search and Rescue (SAR) team recently refreshed their ice-anchor and rope climbing skills on the plateau near Mount Henderson.

The rescue skills refresher was also preparation for another off-station experience.

This week the wintering team had the opportunity to visit a Russian aircraft wreck that is mostly buried in ice and snow on the plateau approximately 10 km from Mawson station. Access to the aircraft is through a crevasse field which requires everyone to be familiar with glacier travel techniques and be roped together in groups of 3 or 4.

The wrecked aircraft is a Lusinov Li-2, a licenced Russian-built version of the Douglas DC-3, which was damaged in December 1968 while taxiing on the plateau during strong winds. Despite attempts to anchor the aircraft it was flipped and destroyed during a blizzard the following year. The wreckage was blown into a crevasse field and is slowly but surely moving with the plateau ice toward the sea.

Part of the cockpit, the centre section of the upside-down wings, the cargo door and part of the tail are currently exposed above the icy landscape. The broken tail section is perpendicular to the wings and rolled on its side with a horizontal stabilizer now pointing skyward.

Visiting the aircraft wreck and travelling through the crevasse field with mountain nunataks as a backdrop was a truly memorable experience.

Mark G (Met Tech)