Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lost Souls in the Mountains

The glacial ice creaks and groans, the stout windblown trees rustle from the incessant gales that sweep the area, and at the base of the glacier lie the souls of adventurers who flew in their airplane with a dream of success in Antarctica.

We have not been able to report to you all about the discovery that the team on Xplore made during this last expedition in the remote fiords of Tierra del Fuego (TDF) until now. We were exploring the bays and glacial basins off the arms of Seno Almirantazgo when one of the shore party teams’ VHF radio started calling back to the yacht with a squealed excitement.

Rodrigo had gone further up the glacial valley than anyone else and what he found after crossing the glacial moraine would open a wave of intrigue about what he had uncovered.

Lying at the base of the glacier, partially covered with ice and moraine soil were the remains of a large aircraft that had smashed itself to pieces as it had flown straight into the mountains.

Rodrigo's first reactions were a mixture of excitement and emotion as he relayed to the shore teams and Xplore what he was looking at. Touching and turning over pieces in his hands, the size of the parts lying there could not be taken lightly. The huge landing wheel couldn't even be lifted. The sections of the twin tail planes showed telltale signs of the type of craft, and the seat belt in his hand was rusted and of a design from many years ago. The huge propellers lay there, still with their yellow tips, bent and twisted. But the discovery of a parachute that he started to tug on, as it was partially buried, stopped him short in his tracks as he realized that there may be something on the other end of it, and the shards of bones lying mixed within the soil and ice could be …?

Rodrigo returned to Xplore with a few items and a lot of photos, his heartbeat was still erratic as the whelm of ideas and emotions were shared within the whole team. Where did it come from, what nationality, where was it going? Who was onboard?

Just over 24 hours ago, Xplore docked at the fishermen's dock here in the Straits of Magellan, Punta Arenas (Sandy Point). Waiting on the dock were five men from the Civil Aviation, Army and Air Force, who looked very serious. They waited until we had Xplore tied up and then the questions started to roll, on and on they probed Rodrigo about the events and discovery.

Late last night we received news that some possible answers were coming to light. During the Second World War and into the 1950's the Chilean and Argentinean Air Forces had used Avro Lancaster aircraft in the area, and we had evidence of Spanish markings on the plane’s fuselage. These planes normally flew in military operations with eight crew and had the capability to carry 15 passengers/troops.

Even though there had been no listed missing aircraft in this part of TDF, the authorities had received news that in the 50's two Lancaster aircraft had departed from Argentina en route to Antarctica. With extreme weather along the way, both had turned and headed to Punta Arenas to escape the conditions. Only one landed.

Is the twisted wreckage that we have found the other lost plane?

The investigation continues

~ Stephen


  1. This crash site is remarkably similar to one detailed in a NOVA TV episode called 'Vanished.' See and first in 2001. The same plane type crashed into a glacier in South America in 1947. Over the years, weather and movement of the glacier buried the plane wrekcage. But, now, by glacier movement the wrekage site travelled to the moraine at the end of the glacier and was naturally re-exposed after decades of being buried. Your situation is so similar it is spooky.
    -Drew A.
    Loveland, Ohio, USA

  2. What a great find and article. Beautiful photos and haunting scenes. Glad I came across your blog because the bottom of the planet is of great interest to me.

    San Diego, CA USA

  3. El avión en cuestión es un Avro Lincoln Mk-II (ex RAF) adquirido por la FUERZA AEREA ARGENTINA en 1947, cuya matrícula era B-019 (BRAVO CEROU ONE NINE), destacado en la V Brigada Aérea situada en la Provincia de San Luis. La FUERZA AEREA CHILENA no contaba con este tipo de aviòn bombardero.

    Walter Marcelo BENTANCOR