US plane wreck to be cleared from Swiss Alps

Over 70 years after its emergency landing, a US military plane is emerging from a melting glacier in Switzerland. Local authorities want to clear the wreckage before winter. 

This content was published on August 16, 2018

The American Dakota C-53, which landed on the Gauli Glacier in the Bernese Oberland in 1946, is a magnet for visitors thanks to its exposed propellers, wings and engine parts. 

But not for much longer. Recently, the crash site was visited by the mayor of Innertkirchen and representatives of the Bernese archaeology and environmental departments.

Although there is some oil spillage, there is no immediate risk to the local environment, they found. Now they must decide what should happen to the remains of the plane, which could interest museums. The clean-up is expected to begin in September. 

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On November 19, 1946, the American Dakota C-53 came off course in the fog before making a safe landing high in the Bernese Alps, where it was spotted by coincidence at an altitude of 3,350 meters 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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