Photo of Crash Site Mt Erebus.
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Photo of Crash Site Mt Erebus - Side View.
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US Navy SITREP [SITuation REPort] from 28 November 1979
In February 1977 Air New Zealand began commercial flights over the Ross Dependency in Antarctica, the flights leaving from Auckland and refuelling in Christchurch on the return journey. At 12.49 pm on 28 November 1979 Flight TE901, a McDonnell Douglas DC10 carrying 20 crew and 237 passengers, crashed on the slopes of Mt Erebus. There were no survivors. The responsibility for coordinating the difficult operation to recover the bodies in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth fell on the Christchurch based Antarctic Division of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, which administered the research facility at Scott Base. In spite of the logistical difficulties the recovery task was completed by 10 December 1979. The Americans at McMurdo Station had offered their full support for the operation and its success was heavily dependent on this help.
These documents are from the many linear metres of public archives from the Antarctic Division (now Antarctica New Zealand), whose records of the disaster included photographs recovered from the plane, as well as those taken of the crash scene and recovery operation; taped radio broadcasts of the search operation; radio call logs; diary entries, and files of correspondence.
Records of the official commission of enquiry into the crash are held in Archives New Zealand's Head Office in Wellington. Other Government agencies, such as the Police, were also involved in undertaking the recovery operation and investigating the disaster and their records also form part of the documentary evidence of this event.
Because Christchurch has been home to the Government agency administering New Zealand's research programme in Antarctica, the office holds material relating to the continent dating back to the Trans Antarctic Expedition of 1956 and the establishment of Scott Base.