Saturday, January 27, 2007
A group of adult and juvenile Adelie penguins investigate this C-47 (DC-3) at Hallett Station.
The airplane, as indicated by the bent propeller and missing windshield panels, is a derelect left in the station's equipment dump. It may have had a history of problems. The plane, Number 7 "Takahe," is shown buried in the snow in a number of photos taken in 1957 at Little America V, a temporary research station built during the first Operation Deep Freeze.
The photo captures a panoply of irony. Not only is the flightless aircraft the center of attention for a group of the worlds most celebrated flightless birds, the plane's name, "Takahe," refers to a flightless bird native to New Zealand. Whether the name was added to the fuselage in jest after the plane's final mission, or if it the original moniker was a portent of the plane's future, we may never know. Perhaps the plane's fate was sealed the day the name was painted on its nose.
The rare Takahe, of which less than 300 are now known to exist, was once thought extinct. Originally known from fossil remains, it was "rediscovered" in 1948 living in a remote region.
An eagle-eyed reader pointed me to: http://www.vaq34.com/vxe6/17163.htm. According to the site:
"R4D-5L (that's #7, Takahe) crashed Sept 15, 1959, while making a landing at Hallet Station. After the touchdown on the ice at Cape Hallet the starboard main landing gear collapsed. The plane was declared a strike because it was not economical to repair due to its age" (Air Development Squadron Six, Deep Freeze 60)
It appears name "Takahe" was the plane's original VX-6 (Air Development Squadron Six) name. -ed.