30 years on, Erebus families reach the ice
Strong Antarctic winds prevented relatives of Mt Erebus victims holding a memorial ceremony near the 1979 crash site last night.
The six family members were able to fly over the area on the northern slopes of Erebus where the Air New Zealand DC10 crashed killing all 257 people on board on November 28, 1979.
The group may get another chance on Monday to land on the mountain for a brief ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the country's worst air disaster.
They left from Christchurch on a United States Globemaster which arrived at McMurdo Sound at 2.25pm yesterday.
Cloud had lifted to provide clear views of Mt Erebus, but winds rising to 40 knots meant the two helicopters taking them to a memorial cross 3km from the crash site could not land.
Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson said from Scott Base last night that the relatives had a good view of the accident site, but none of the wreckage could be seen during yesterday's flyover, he said.
Sanson said Scott Base staff would join the family members for a memorial service at the base's historic flagpole at 12.50pm today – the time when the crash happened 30 years ago.
The service will be led by the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Peter Beck.
One of the six family members, Eric Houghton, said after landing on the Ice that the visit – the first by any Erebus relatives – would be hard but he felt privileged to be able to pay his respects to his father and the others who died in the crash.
Pip Collins, daughter of Erebus pilot Captain Jim Collins, said she had mixed emotions. "Every step of this journey has actually been very filled with significance."
Today also marks the first anniversary of the Air New Zealand Airbus crash in southern France in which five New Zealanders and two Germans lost their lives.
Many family members of the New Zealand victims are in Perpignan for memorial ceremonies.