On December 4, an LC-130 crashed on takeoff from the polar plateau. The aircraft had resupplied the French traverse party and was making a jet-assisted-take-off (JATO) from the open field at 68°20'S 137°31'E, some 760 nautical miles from McMurdo Station. Two of the 165-pound JATO bottles separated from the left side of the aircraft and struck a moving propeller. The pilot, Lt. Comdr. E. M. Gabriel, made a successful landing, and the ten crewmembers escaped without injury.
Adverse weather prevented a rescue aircraft from arriving for almost four days. The survivors spent 80 hours in survival tents and experienced -25°F temperatures and 40 mile-per-hour winds, a -100°F chill factor. The accident investigation team, which rescued the survivors, inspected the aircraft and declared it a total loss. It was stripped of useable parts and abandoned at the crash site.
The loss of one of the four fixed-wing aircraft available for airlift within Antarctica will have a serious effect on this season's activities. The programs are being evaluated to see where requirements might be altered.