Parts of US plane wreck pulled from glacier 70 years on

Parts of a wrecked US military plane have been recovered from melting glacier ice 70 years after it made an emergency landing in the Alps. 

This content was published on September 18, 2018

The Swiss Air Force says it has pulled out important parts of the American Dakota C-53, which landed on the Gauli Glacier in the Bernese Oberland in 1946. But not all the parts have come to the surface. The cockpit, for example, remains under the ice. 

"We found an engine block with the propeller, some parts of the wing and a lot of small pieces, bits of sheet metal, wooden parts and also some blankets," Fritz Teuscher, head of the recovery team, told a press briefing on Monday. 

Up to two tonnes of recovered material is being airlifted to the valley. 

“The Americans have given the plane to the government,” said Teuscher. Some parts will be put on display in an exhibition at the tourist centre in the village of Innertkirchen. 

On November 19, 1946, the Dakota came off course in fog before making a safe landing high in the Bernese Alps, where it was spotted by coincidence at an altitude of 3,350 metres on the Gauli Glacier.  

In an unprecedented operation, Swiss military pilots launched the world’s first rescue in the high mountains from the air, and they managed to fly the 12 Dakota passengers safely to nearby Meiringen. The rescue operation is regarded as the birth of the air rescue service. 


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