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(McMurdo Station)

Status: Plane Crash Site; Antarctica US Research Station

Air New Zealand Flight 901.jpg

By <a href="" class="extiw" title="wikipedia:User:Mike subritzky">Mike subritzky</a> at <a href="" class="extiw" title="wikipedia:">English Wikipedia</a> - Transferred from <span class="plainlinks"><a class="external text" href="">en.wikipedia</a></span> to Commons., Public Domain, Link

Mt erebus.jpg

By Richard Waitt, U.S. Geological Survey - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href=";VErupt=Y&amp;VSources=Y&amp;VRep=Y&amp;VWeekly=Y&amp;volpage=photos&amp;photo=061066">U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)</a>, Public Domain, Link

Flight Air New Zealand 901 crash map.PNG

By <a href="//;action=edit&amp;redlink=1" class="new" title="User:ItalianAirForce (page does not exist)">ItalianAirForce</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC0, Link


At 0800 November 28, 1979 Air New Zealand Flight 901 left Auckland International Airport on a routine sightseeing flight over Antarctica. It was to land at Christchurch International Airport at 1800 for a crew replacement and the flight back to Auckland. There were 237 passengers from all over the world and 20 crew on board.

Sightseeing flights to Antarctica had been flying from New Zealand since 1977. The price for a ticket that November morning was 359 NZ$ (2,977 NZ$ in 2022 prices). The aircraft was a McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

According to the recovered Flight Recorder the ground proximity alarm when off in the cockpit at 1249. The flight crew attempted to gain altitude and then do a go around to avoid a collusion. They were unsuccessful and at 1250 the plane crashed into the side of Mt Erebus – the highest mountain on Ross Island – resulting in the deaths of all passengers and crew.

US McMurdo Station informed Air New Zealand headquarters they had lost contact with the plane and search and rescue teams were put on standby.

At 1400 the US Navy launched a search operation to find the plane. When the plane failed to arrive on time at the Christchurch Airport Air Zealand simply said the flight being a little late wasn’t uncommon – yes, the same people who were told contact was lost with the plane hours before.

At 2100 – 30 minutes after the plane would have run out of fuel – a New Zealand search mission was finally launched. At 0055 a US Navy aircraft identified unknown debris on Mt Erebus. At 0900 – 20 hours after the crash – helicopters finally landed and the crash site and confirmed it was Flight 901 with no survivors.

Originally, the reason for the crash was said to be pilot error but the outcry from the public was so loud a formal inquest had to be launched.

The real reason: changes were made to the navigation computer to alter the flight plan but the flight crew were not told. That being said, the flight crew did not do a check of the flight plan in the computer before taking off.

The flight crew thought they were over McMurdo Sound and lowered the altitude so the passengers could get a better look. They were actually flying right at Mt Erebus and the white of the sky matched the white of the mountain so they thought they were looking at a clear horizon.

The important parts of the plane – like the flight recorder – were flown back to Auckland. The bodies of the victims were identified as best they could be and then stored at McMurdo Station before returning to New Zealand. 44 victims could not be identified and a mass funeral was held for them.

The majority of the wreckage of the plane is still on Mt Erebus; during cold weather it is buried under snow and ice, during warm weather it is still visible from the air.

The crash remains Air New Zealand’s worst accident ever – at the time it was the 4th deadliest air disaster in the world – and it is New Zealand’s 3rd worst peacetime disaster.

There is an aluminum cross and a koru containing letters from the victim’s families at Scott Base which is New Zealand’s Antarctic research centre.


Paranormal Activity

Most of the recorded paranormal activity is from McMurdo Station – where the bodies were stored until they could be shipped back to New Zealand – due to the extreme environment at the crash site it is rarely visited.

Phantom footsteps have been reported as well as disembodied voices and what people describe as just a “wrongness” in parts of the station. Footprints have been found leading off into blizzards but no one was reported as missing.

On the anniversary of the crash strange noises are heard like that of a jet engine and of a plane crashing.

In the vicinity of the crash site apparitions of people have been seen wandering wearing clothes no one could survive in Antarctica’s climate. They generally appear dazed or confused as what’s happening and will fade away if approached.