June 27, 2009

Mount Erebus meets Air New Zealand

This year is the thirty year anniversary of Air New Zealand 1979 Mount Erebus tragedy that took the lives of all 257 passengers and crew.

We had friends, a married couple, celebrating his birthday on board it... as did many, many people in New Zealand. We waited through the night for news, fearing them lying in the ice, freezing and injured. My father picked up their car from the airport...

The Search for TE901

A US Helicopter at the crash site in 1979.
Many people will remember waiting for news on the night of 28 November 1979. Several hours had passed since the last radio communication with Air New Zealand Antarctic sightseeing flight TE901. From the final communication with the aircraft , at approximately 12.30pm NZDT, the last known position of the missing aircraft was established as 38 nautical miles north of McMurdo Station.

We read the book; we followed the commission of inquiry and the famous saying of the late Justice Mahon, of "the orchestrated litany of lies" that tried to cover the events that led to this black day day.

Now they have launched a comprehensive web site about it. They interviewed the wives of the pilots on television tonight. They said that finally everything known was together in one site. They hoped that schools would use it to teach the children of the truth, the issues and to remember and honour those who died.

I do too.

In memory of Robbie and Marilyn Bond.

The Erebus Story The loss of TE901 www.erebus.co.nz


  1. thats the horror of a plane crash -no one will survive, and finding the body is all too often difficult too.
    lets pause and remember then those who have perished...

  2. Tragedies like this don't lessen over time, do they? They never disappear. Hopefully this will grant some closure.

  3. This is presumably the tragedy that led to Air New Zealand being the only airline to carry arctic survival gear for all passengers, which I believe they still do to this day?

    What a terrible thing. And to know someone on board brings it closer doesn't it. Even knowing someone who knew someone on board does that, so I can't imagine how you must feel.

    Rest in peace, passengers and crew of flight TE901.

  4. In a country the size of New Zealand, it doesn't actually take much for people to know people aboard.... or as you say, friends of friends.
    I guess one of the things that made this unusual was that it was not a regular flight, but a tourist sightseeing trip! I did wonder what appeal there was in flying over Antarctica when Robbie told me they were going to do it for his birthday - but it did mean a large number of people were on board as a result of a present, a special treat, not just necessary travel.

    Anyway, Jay, I can't say I have seen arctic gear on my regular domestic flights - but I did check it out - and I guess because here in Christchurch is the airport where everyone flies to from NZ now, I did confirm
    "all aircraft flying to Antarctica or within Antarctica carry survival equipment for everyone aboard. This includes sleeping bags, foam pads to help insulate the bags from the snow or ice, tents, backpacking stoves and fuel, emergency food, and other equipment that could help everyone aboard survive in the worst Antarctica could offer if an emergency landing had to be made. "

  5. As you might imagine, being an American - halfway around the world, so involved in ourselves - I'd not remembered that incident. I'll have to check out the site and take a history lesson. Thanks!


Comments welcome....always love to hear what you think!


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