Twin Otter Incident, January 2016

Twin otter incident
Twin Otter sans one ski...

20 January 2016. Kenn Borek Air's Twin Otter CKB...a frequent visitor to the Antarctic in recent years, was completed with the season's charter operation. Time to head back to Calgary the long way. Which involves a long flight from Pole to Rothera (followed by another very long flight from Rothera to Punta Arenas). So...after a stopover at Pole, it was ready to head north. Alone. Heavily loaded with fuel, including the extra fuselage tank.

At least one person was watching it take off, perhaps waiting for the crossing beacon to be turned off. They watched it take off...almost, until something that looked like a ski flew up into the air, and the aircraft stopped at an abnormal angle (above photo). There was some soft snow involved. As one pilot put it, "they didn't crash, they departed the skiway" and went sideways. I'm not sure if the the loss of the ski was the cause or the effect.

What happened next? A full-scale emergency response...and the internet was cut off until it was determined that everything was okay with the three crew members. Then...the investigation followed. A couple more post-crash photos:

CKB in a bad way
The left side. Stuff being unloaded from the aircraft.
CKB atilt
And the right side. That hose means they probably were offloading fuel.
As the takeoff direction was away from the station, it looks like the aircraft swung around after the ski came loose, as the station and the berms are in the background of the above photos.
looking for debris on the skiway

As a prelude to the investigation, the station was called upon to walk the skiway looking for debris, or as the Navy would call it, FOD (foreign objects and debris).
looking for debris on the skiway

Another view of the station folks around the stricken aircraft.

The rest of the story...while the investigation was continuing, the skiway was unusable, which helped lead to a huge overcrowding of folks on station. After a couple of days, the Twin Otter was moved off of the skiway, but the next LC-130 did not arrive until the 26th. The Twin Otter was eventually repaired, and departed on 3 February.

All of the photos are by Jeremy McGinty; the information is thanks to him and several other Polies!