Antarctica trio remembered at South Pole

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 09:24 30/01/2013
antarctica memorial

REMEMBERING: The crowd gathers outside Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station for a moment of silence.

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An informal memorial has been held at the South Pole to honour three Canadians who died in a plane crash in Antarctica, The Canadian Press reports.

The men, all employees of Kenn Borek Air, were killed when their Twin Otter slammed into a mountain in the Queen Alexandra mountain range last week as it was flying to Terra Nova Bay.

About 75 people, including three Kenn Borek colleagues, gathered outside Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station for a moment of silence as an American flag was replaced with a Canadian one for the day.

The US National Science Foundation's South Pole area manager, Bill Coughran, read from the poem "High Flight":

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth/And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

The foundation's Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula has also lowered its Canadian flag to half-mast for three days in what staff are calling "remembrance of the fallen members of our Antarctic family".

"We have been privileged to experience first-hand their professionalism, skill and dedication to the arduous task of supporting science in an extremely remote and inhospitable environment," Kelly Falkner with the polar programs division said in a news release.

"Although everyone associated with the pursuit of science in Antarctica makes personal sacrifices to do so, very infrequently and sadly, some make the ultimate sacrifice."

Canadian Press said Kenn Borek Air had not identified the dead crew, but friends had named the pilot as Bob Heath of Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories, Mike Denton, a newlywed from Calgary, and Perry Andersen of Collingwood, Ontario.

American and New Zealand search teams in helicopters were able to land near the crash site on Sunday and retrieved the cockpit voice recorder from the back of the plane, but could not reach the front of the plane which was buried in snow and ice.

A full recovery mission will be undertaken when next spring.

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