Searchers in Antarctica say the crash of a Canadian Twin Otter was “not survivable” and the operation is now a recovery mission and it will be October before that can happen. Three Canadians, including aircraft commander Bob Heath, his copilot Mike Denton, 25, and an unidentified third person were aboard the aircraft, which hit the side of a mountain in the Queen Alexandria range. The aircraft was owned and operated by Kenn Borek Air, of Calgary, which is world-renowned for its work at both poles using specially equipped Twin Otters and DC-3s. Weather has improved in the area, which was hit with 100-mph winds for two days after the Twin Otter’s ELT was triggered on Wednesday. A helicopter reached the site on Sunday but crew members were unable to reach the front of the aircraft, which was embedded in the snow. They did, however, recover the cockpit voice recorder.
The aircraft was flying from the South Pole to an Italian base on Terra Nova Bay when it went down. New Zealand officials, who coordinated the search, said the aircraft appeared to made direct impact with the mountain on a steep slope. The aircraft was well-stocked with survival gear and initially there was hope the crew could survive to be rescued. Kenn Borek Air has not commented on the news. The aircraft was one of 14 it has in Antarctica this season.