The New Zealand Search and Rescue Council has recognized the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation's Division of Polar Programs, for its cooperation with Antarctica New Zealand in response to the January 2013 loss of a Twin Otter aircraft and its crew in the Antarctic.
On May 13, the Hon. Michael Woodhouse, New Zealand's associate transport minister, presented a Certificate of Achievement for Operational Activity jointly to the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) and Antarctica New Zealand.
The Twin Otter crash occurred on Jan. 23 in the Queen Alexandra Range, roughly 419 miles south of McMurdo Station, NSF's logistics hub on the continent, and New Zealand's Scott Base, which is near McMurdo Station. The search-and-rescue effort employed the JSART; an LC-130 Hercules aircraft, flown by the New York Air National Guard; a DC-3 Basler and Twin Otter aircraft, flown by Kenn Borek Air, a contractor to the U.S. program; and PHI, Inc. the U.S. helicopter contractor, and New Zealand helicopter support. JSART members were ferried to the remote crash site by helicopter after having established a local staging area on Beardmore Glacier.
U.S. Antarctic Program Bell 212. Photo by Elaine Hood, NSF
The joint search-and-rescue effort managed to place experts at the crash site to examine the wreckage. But that examination indicated it would be unsafe to further disturb the wreckage, which was largely embedded in snow and ice on a steep slope. The team was able to recover some equipment from the exposed tail of the Twin Otter, including the cockpit voice recorder. They were unable to safely recover the remains of the crew.
Related: SAR News