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MELTING SWISS GLACIER REVEALS WORLD WAR II PLANE - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Wednesday August 15, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The American Dakota crash-landed 72 years ago on the Gauli glacier but now large parts of the aircraft have been uncovered for the first time.


The military transport plane has remained largely hidden under snow and ice since it came down in November 1946, the year after the Second World War ended.

Much of the aircraft has just emerged, as a result of the retreating glacier and this summer's heatwave.

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The plane, which had been en route from Austria to Pisa in Italy, landed at high speed but intact.

All those on board were eventually rescued but the plane could not be recovered.

See post dated 18th January in this article where we mention the crash and rescue.

Crash-landed DakotaThe Dakota with its survivors and rescuers - photo Swiss Air Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years some of it fell into crevasses.

Experts say that in 70 years, the broken-up Dakota travelled about 3.5km on the glacier.

Part of crash-landed DakotaPart of a wing in a crevasse in 2015 - photo Bruno Petroni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several smaller parts have been found.

In August 2012, three 18-year-old climbers found a propellor.

Propellor found in 2012Propellor found in 2012 - photo Canton of Bern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new discoveries are said to include wings, propellors and items from inside the plane's fuselage.

It's reported that the owner of a nearby mountain hut has been asked to keep an eye on the them to ensure they are not destroyed or stolen.

Dakota parts uncovered Aug 2018Visible again - photo Max Schilt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The fate of the Dakota helped revolutionise mountain rescue operations.

After it crash-landed it took five days for the four crew and eight passengers to be rescued as no-one knew where the plane was.

It was not meant to be flying in Swiss airspace but a snowstorm forced the pilot to bring the plane down in the Bernese Alps.

Eventually a Mayday emergency message was picked up by the Swiss and two pilots mounted a daring rescue operation using a plane fitted with skis to land on the glacier.

Rescue planeThe rescue plane - photo Swiss Air Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took nine trips to pick up all the stranded crew and passengers.

It had never been done before and the successful rescue led to the foundation of the Swiss Mountain Rescue Service.

Dakota on Swiss glacier in 1947The Dakota in 1947 before it disappeared - photo Swiss Air Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last month we reported that the Italian police had finally identified a skier whose body lay in a glacier for more than 50 years before it was discovered:

MAIN PHOTO: Max Schilt

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