Bob Heath is pilot for Kenn Borek and worked for the Americans, Italians and tourist operations at Patriot Hills. courtesy Facebook
"Authorities know almost exactly where the Twin Otter is located in the Queen Alexandra mountain range [...] weather kept rescuers at bay on Wednesday. It's a pretty inaccessible spot." In the image, an ALE Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter flying over a cloud covered Mount Vinson. courtesy ExplorersWeb, www.explorersweb.com
Posted: Jan 24, 2013 02:46 am EST (Newdesk) In a press release Kenn Borek announced that during the early morning hours of January 23, 2013, a Twin Otter operated by Kenn Borek Air Ltd., "was categorized as an overdue aircraft. The aircraft was repositioning from the South Pole Station to Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica, carrying three Canadian crew members. At present time, search and rescue efforts are being hampered by weather conditions."
"All Kenn Borek Air Ltd. assets in the area and other assets available to the New Zealand Search and Rescue are actively supporting and participating in this effort."
No names have been officially released but according to news media the pilot is Bob Heath from Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada.
According to www.canmoreleader.com his wife, Lucy, yesterday said, "Kenn Borek just phoned me to say Bob's plane was down, and they were trying to reach it."
The news source added, "Wednesday was especially frustrating for friends and family of the three missing Canadians, who lost contact late Tuesday night while flying from the South Pole to Terra Nova Bay. That's because authorities know almost exactly where the Twin Otter is located in the Queen Alexandra mountain range, after a beacon was triggered following the apparent crash."
"But knowing where the plane is and reaching the crash site are two different things in a hostile environment like Antarctica, and weather kept rescuers at bay on Wednesday. It's a pretty inaccessible spot. It's on a plateau about 13,000 feet high," Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand spokesman Steve Rendle told QMI Agency."
New Zealand is leading attempts to reach the 19-seat plane, because it's in the part of Antarctica closest to that country. A United States C-130 Hercules plane has already flown over the suspected crash site but couldn't see anything, and thick cloud has since prevented aircraft from spotting the Otter, says reports.
"Weather conditions are extremely challenging," Search and Rescue mission co-ordinator John Ashby told reporters in New Zealand. "There are winds of 90 knots at the site and conditions are forecast to worsen with snow becoming heavier."
The Kenn Borek Twin Otters, 14 of which are reportedly ferrying researchers and equipment around the South Pole this summer, are equipped with extreme weather survival gear.
Bob Heath is an experience pilot and was reportedly quoted in Australian media last year, talking about his work, saying he has done nine or 10 trips to Antarctica as a pilot for Kenn Borek and worked for the Americans, Italians and tourist operations at Patriot Hills. Patriot Hills is well known with the South Pole skiers and Antarctic mountaineers as ALE/ANI's previous base camp from where they traveled in Kenn Borek Air Twin Otters and the Bassler/DC-3. Kenn Borek's Otters and Bassler also operate from the current base camp, Union Glacier.