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calendar   Wednesday - December 11, 2019

Chile Aircraft Vanishes

C-130 Missing, Not Much Hope

President Sebastián Piñera of Chile confirmed reports early Tuesday of the disappearance of a Hercules C-130 military aircraft en route to Antarctica, describing the incident as an “accident.”

The Chilean military, with aid from neighboring Uruguay, Argentina, and the United States, has begun a search of what officials consider the likely crash site of the plane. There is not at press time any evidence that the plane crashed, but its sudden disappearance off of military radar and complete lack of communication with the air traffic regulators monitoring it suggests the plane fell somewhere along its path to Chile’s Antarctic scientific research site.

Authorities in Santiago confirmed 38 people, about half members of the crew and half soldiers, were onboard the flight, which departed Punto Arenas, Chile, at 2 p.m. local time on Monday. Three passengers were identified as civilians. It was expected to land at Chile’s Eduardo Frei military base in Antarctica at about 7:30 p.m. local time, the armed forces confirmed in a press release, but disappeared about an hour before. By midnight on Tuesday, military officials declared that the airplane had likely crashed and launched a search and rescue operation in the Drake Passage, the waters in between the southernmost continent and South America.

The Argentina outlet Infobae described the aircraft’s mission as one of “supply and logistics support,” ensuring that the military base was both fueled and properly furbished in light of the difficult conditions on the continent.

The flight was from Punto Arenas to the airstrip on King Georges Island in the Southern Shetlands. This is only about 750 miles, in an airplane that usually flies about 300mph. But way down at the bottom of the world the weather is extremely unpredictable and can change drastically in an instant. The Southern Shetlands are a group of smallish islands at the north end of the great Antarctic Archipelago, that spit of ice covered land that juts northward towards South America. King George Island is home to the research bases of many nations, because one small area on the west end of the island is ice free for most of the year. The landing strip is gravel, which makes it a lot nicer than the typical ice strips on the rest of the continent. It’s late Spring there right now, and at this time the wind and wave conditions in the Drake Passage are relatively pretty mild, with waves only 10 feet high. The water is deadly cold though, as always. The C-130 aircraft is a sturdy and reliable design, a tough old workhorse from 1956 that is still in production.

Sad update 12/12/19: all 38 aboard are lost. The plane crashed into the ocean. Hard. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/11/2019 at 10:42 AM   
Filed Under: • Militaryplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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