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    Relic Of Antarctica's First Plane Found On Ice-Edge

    Read Me

    Quote: CAPE DENISON, Antarctica (Reuters) An Antarctic expedition has found what it believes to be remains of the first aeroplane brought to the frozen continent, on an icy shore near where it was abandoned almost a century ago...

    Does anyone have a picture of the plane in question? (or similar plane?)
    sigpicHindsight is what you see from the tailgunner's position...

    #2
    See here

    Al

    Comment


      #3
      I believe it was abandoned by the Mawson Expedition before the Great War, it never flew in Antarctica but converted to tow sledges. Haven't got the revelant book to hand today.

      Comment


        #4
        .

        Relic of Antarctica's first plane found on ice-edge
        Pauline Askin
        CAPE DENISON, Antarctica
        Fri Jan 1, 2010 10:49pm ESTRelated NewsAntarctic expeditioners to have a truly white Christmas
        Thu, Dec 24 2009
        Antarctic researchers need solid sun block: study
        Mon, Dec 21 2009CAPE DENISON, Antarctica (Reuters) - An Antarctic expedition has found what it believes to be remains of the first aeroplane brought to the frozen continent, on an icy shore near where it was abandoned almost a century ago.

        Science

        Australia has searched for many years for the old single-propeller Vickers plane at Cape Denison, where the nation's most famous polar explorer, Douglas Mawson, abandoned it after it proved to be a failure during his 1911-14 expedition.

        "Luck has been on our side and it's been a great episode in the history of Antarctic aviation," said Dr Tony Stewart, leader of the current expedition, after the chance discovery on New Year's day.

        Another member of the expedition, which is dedicated to restoring Mawson's original wooden huts at Cape Denison, stumbled on pieces of rusted metal tubing among ice-encrusted rocks on the shore of Commonwealth Bay at an especially low tide. They match structural iron tubing from the single-winged plane's fuselage.

        Mawson's dream of staging the first human flight over the Antarctic ice cap, less than a decade after the Wright brothers made the first powered flight, was shattered even before his expedition sailed for the Antarctic from Australia in late 1911.

        The plane crashed in a demonstration flight in October that year, weeks before Mawson was due to set sail. No one was hurt, but the wings were damaged. With no time for repairs, Mawson removed the wings and took the rest of the plane, aiming to use it as a flightless "air tractor" to haul equipment across the ice.

        Even as a tractor, with its wheels replaced by sled-runners, the Vickers was a failure. Its engine seized up in the cold.

        The Mawson's Huts Foundation, an officially backed charity that funds the conservation work on site, believes the plane became entombed in ice after it was abandoned and then inched its way toward the sea with the glacial ice over the last 100 years

        "It's been an exciting search. Friday was possibly the only day in several years when the rocks were sufficiently exposed and the tide was low enough and we were here to see it," Stewart said.

        (Writing by Mark Bendeich; Editing by Jerry Norton)


        Here is the Vickers REP (probably in the UK), "complete", before it crashed when flown by Watkins in South Australia.




        1 R.E.P. 60 HP five-cylinder air-cooled semi-radial engine The very first airplane to be built by Vickers, this was a license-built French machine, designed by Robert Esnault-Pelterie. The fuselage was built in France while the wings were made in England. After being tested at Vickers' new airfield at Joyce Green, Dartford, and then at Brooklands, it was crated and shipped to Australia for use by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition. However, the wings were damaged beyond repair on October 5, 1911, during a practice flight at Cheltenham Racecourse, Adelaide, Australia, before the expedition left for the Antarctic. Minus its wings, the machine was converted into an air-tractor, and taken south, but it did not fly in the Antarctic. The first tests of the machine as an air-tractor were made on November 15, 1912. After a short trial trip on November 20, 1912, the vehicle made a successful depot-laying trip with a load of 700 pounds on December 2, 1912. At 3 PM on December 3rd, three men and the air-tractor left the expedition's base at Commonwealth Bay on a major trip. On December 4, 1912, while towing four sledges loaded with fuel and supplies, several of the pistons seized and the engine broke down. The air-tractor was left at this point, about ten miles from the base. Later another party of men recovered the air-tractor, which was taken back to Commonwealth Bay and abandoned there.






        Here is the Vickers #1 being used as the tractor sledge in Antartica.














        Its rudder was found intact encased in ice in the workshop of Mawson's base, and apparantly was photographed near the huts in 1978, but it appears from the media report that the abandoned fuselage has shifted in the ice flow to the edge of the flow and sea, and now apparantly nothing more than a debris of tubes?.




        Regards

        Mark Pilkington
        Last edited by Mark_pilkington; 2nd January 2010, 12:10.
        "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

        Comment


          #5
          Nice one, Mark, the Cape Denison article in Wikipedia is about 2 lines long. Ever thought of expanding it or contributing a photo?
          regards
          sigpicHindsight is what you see from the tailgunner's position...

          Comment


            #6
            Excellent news, don't suppose they've released any photos of it 'as found' yet?

            Roger Smith.
            A Blenheim, Beaufighter and Beaufort - together in one Museum. Who'd have thought that possible in 1967?

            Comment


              #7
              RPSmith Excellent news, don't suppose they've released any photos of it 'as found' yet?

              Roger Smith.
              After nearly 100 years in Antartica subjected to blizzards, constant exposure to water, the pressures of shifting ice, and more recently apparant contact or immersion in salt water, you cant expect it to be in prinstine condition.

              The BBC news and online affiliates have film footage, here are 3 images of the steel frame remains found on the rocky shore, little more than debris.

              A bit like moon landings and space junk, the Antartic division have a reasonably good record of what has been taken onto site, so I assume they are confident these sections are from the fuselage frame, I guess its possible other pieces are already pushed into the sea, or still to emerge from the ice flow.



              Regards

              Mark Pilkington
              Attached Files
              "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

              Comment


                #8
                I edited this into the Wikipedia page, Cape Denison. Wikipedia however does not have a page on the aircraft, the Vickers REP. Does anybody wish to create that page?
                sigpicHindsight is what you see from the tailgunner's position...

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks Mark.

                  Perhaps my 'expectations' were a little too high!! However it is still pleasing that anything has been found and recovered after all these years.

                  Roger Smith.
                  A Blenheim, Beaufighter and Beaufort - together in one Museum. Who'd have thought that possible in 1967?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    .
                    It is a pity it wasnt recovered in @1978 as apparantly substantial remains of the forward fuselage was still to be seen poking through the ice based on the photo below.



                    The recently discovered sections may be from the rear fuselage which had apparantly already come adrift by 1913 when the sledge tractor was already disused and derelict, as per the photo above.

                    However they seem to be complex tube clusters more resembling the box structure of the cockpit section rather than the diamond structure of the rear fuselage.

                    There is always a chance the engine mount / forward fuselage seen in the 1978 photo is still encased in the ice somewhere between the hut and the rocky coast?

                    regards

                    Mark Pilkington
                    "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Vickers Monoplane

                      The remains of the aircraft found near Cape Denison in the Antarctic is Vickers Monoplane No.2 which was built at Joyce Green Aerodrome in Dartford,Kent, the aeroplane was sold to Sir Douglas Mawson who led the Australian Antarctic expedition in 1911-1912 and crashed on its trails in Australia. In the Antarctic it was use as a motorized sledge and was abandon after the engine seized due to the lubricating oil freezing solid.
                      Vickers Monoplane Nos. 3,4 & 5. were used at the Vickers Flying School at Brooklands,Weybridge in Surrey.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Mark, do you get any feeling for how serious attempts are to recover the aircraft's remains?

                        Are they, for instance, planning to use metal detectors and are prepared to dig down to retrieve bits? Or is it a low priority and they'll just keep an eye open for when bits appear?

                        Roger Smith.
                        A Blenheim, Beaufighter and Beaufort - together in one Museum. Who'd have thought that possible in 1967?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Looking forward to seeing what's left.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Was it #1 or #2?
                            sigpicHindsight is what you see from the tailgunner's position...

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Vickers Monoplane

                              27 Vet.
                              Vickers Monoplane No.1 was taken to Brooklands and was flown there, it later was involved in a crash and was written off. Monoplane No.2 was sold to Dr Douglas Mawson later (Sir Douglas) for the Australian expedition to the Antarctic.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Thanks, I wanted to write that into the Wiki article, but wasn't sure. There is no page for that aircraft, BTW.
                                CHEERS
                                Last edited by 27vet; 3rd January 2010, 22:39.
                                sigpicHindsight is what you see from the tailgunner's position...

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  .
                                  The Conservation Team has gone onto site with a magnetometer and other equipment with the specific purpose of locating the fuselage remains.


                                  EXPEDITION DEPARTS FOR THE ANTARCTIC IN SEARCH OF AIRCRAFT AND CONSERVATION OF MAWONS HISTORIC HUTS
                                  Sydney Nov 27A ten person team departs Hobart next week (Thursday Dec 3) to continue conservation work on the fragile wooden huts at Cape Denison that were the base for two years of the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) led by Sir Douglas Mawson and also to search for the remains of the first aircraft taken to the icy continent.

                                  While most efforts will concentrate on the recovery and treatment of artefacts inside the main hut specialist equipment including a magnetometer will be used to locate the fuselage of the Vickers monoplane Mawson took south to use as an air tractor.

                                  The wings were removed after it crashed in Adelaide on its first flight in Australia just days before being loaded onto the ship taking the 31 strong expedition to the Antarctic. The pilot was sent home to England in disgrace while the fuselage was used as an air tractor to tow sledges.

                                  It was not a great success in this role and Mawson later sent the engine back to Vickers in the UK after his return top Australia in February 1914, said David Jensen AM Chairman and CEO of the Mawsons Huts Foundation which is staging the expedition, the eighth financed and organised by the Foundation since it was established in 1997.

                                  This years programme is being assisted with a Grant under the Federal Governments Jobs Fund project. Other work planned will include the further removal of ice from within the main hut, the treatment and conservation of artefacts at the special conservation laboratory established at the site, the installation of a wind turbine to harness the elements at what is the worlds windiest place at sea level , a search for a fossil beach millions of years old and not seen since 1914, the repair to damaged shelving inside the hut and an aerial survey of the Cape Denison site using specially designed kites.

                                  The team will spend nearly seven weeks on the ice before returning to Hobart at the end of January. They are being transported onboard the French Government supply vessel LAstrolabe which services the French scientific base at Dumont DUrville. All equipment and personally will be helicoptered to the site about six to seven days after leaving Hobart.

                                  The Foundation works in close partnership with the Australian Antarctic Division which approves all work carried out at the site and each expedition takes nearly 12 months planning, said Mr Jensen.Extensive works has already been completed on the main hut which consists of the living and workshop area with the roofs of both overclad with timber of the exactly the same dimension and from the same source in Finland as the original timber.


                                  The restoration team working on Mawsons huts have finally found parts of the Vickers aircraft taken to Antarctica by Sir Douglas Mawson in 1912.
                                  "The biggest news of the day is that we've found the air tractor, or at least parts of it!" team member Tony Stewart wrote on the team's blog from Cape Denison in Antarctica's Commonwealth Bay.
                                  It was always a bold move to take the early aircraft to the world's most hostile environment and the exercise did not begin well for Australia's Antarctic hero, Sir Douglas Mawson.
                                  A demonstration of the aircraft was undertaken in Adelaide just before the party set sail in 1911. It crashed and the wings were too badly damaged to be repaired and it was converted at last minute to an "air tractor" for towing sledges.
                                  When deployed at their base in Cape Denison the rudimentary engine performed badly in the extreme cold and the experiment was abandoned. The engine was stripped from the aircraft and returned to Vickers while the fuselage was discarded near the base when the party left in 1913.
                                  The aircraft is historically significant because researchers believe it to be the first one to come from the famous Vickers factory, the armaments manufacturer later responsible for such famous aircraft as the WWI Vimy bomber and Wellington of WWII.
                                  The Mawsons Hut Foundation conservators were excited to find the remaining parts of the fuselage which have only become visible because of the particularly low tide. The aircraft had been occasionally sighted in the past, the last time being in the mid-1970s.
                                  The first successful use of an aircraft in Antarctica was by Mawson's countryman, Sir Hubert Wilkins, who flew with pilot, US-born Ben Eielson, from Deception Island over the peninsula (Graham Land) in 1928.


                                  Sir Douglas Mawson's monoplane found
                                  January 03, 2010 03:20pm
                                  ..A HISTORIC monoplane - a relic of Sir Douglas Mawson's 1911-14 expedition - has been found in Antarctica thanks to freakish luck after a three-year search.

                                  An Australian heritage carpenter stumbled on the remains of the craft - the first Vickers aircraft ever made - on New Year's Day at Cape Denison.

                                  The cast iron framework of the plane was revealed by an unusually low tide and reduced ice cover.

                                  ``It's a remarkable find in remarkable circumstances,'' chairman of the Mawson's Huts Foundation David Jensen said.

                                  ``We began the search three summers ago and thought we might have a reasonable chance of finding it with all the equipment provided to us by sponsors.''

                                  Nearly a century after it was abandoned by Mawson, the old Vickers was spotted sitting among rocks in a few centimetres of water during one of the lowest tides recorded at Commonwealth Bay.

                                  ``They would not have been found had the tide not been so low and the ice cover at Cape Denison at its lowest for several years - it was a fluke find,'' Mr Jensen said in a statement.

                                  ``The Vickers was an historic aircraft and part of Mawson's remarkable story of Antarctic exploration.''

                                  The aircraft, built just eight years after the Wright brothers' first flight and the first produced by the Vickers factory in Britain, was also the first to be taken to a polar region.

                                  It never flew in the Antarctic because its wings had been damaged in a test flight in Adelaide, but Mawson used it as an ``air tractor'' to tow sledges and abandoned it when he left Cape Denison in 1913.

                                  Mr Jensen said the aircraft was still sitting on the ice in 1931 and was spotted again when ice melted in 1975.

                                  It was found by a heritage carpenter, Mark Farrell of Hobart, who was looking for a suitable landing spot for a cruise ship to bring visitors to the historic huts at the site in January, he said.

                                  A team of 10 from the Mawson's Huts Foundation arrived in early December for a six-week stay to work on the conservation of the huts.

                                  They had planned to spend this week using high-tech equipment to search for the craft's remains under the ice.

                                  ``Luck was on our side, without a doubt,'' field leader of the group, Dr Tony Stewart, said in the statement.

                                  The Australian Antarctic Division will decide whether to return the remains of the Vickers to Australia for specialist treatment or leave them at Cape Denison.
                                  regards

                                  Mark Pilkington
                                  "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Mawsons Air Tractor

                                    To expand on the above posts: my colleague, Dr Tony Stewart and I (both of us are doctors on the MHF expeditions), have been with the Mawsons Huts Foundation looking for Mawsons Air Tractor at Cape Denison Antarctica for the past two years (2009 and 2010 seasons). In 2010 we used a number of methods to locate the fuselage, but were unable to dig for it because of a blizzard.

                                    We think we have found the location of the fuselage (there was a lot of media interest - above - in some fragments of the tail found in Jan 2010, but these were cut off the fuselage and are not what we are looking for, which is the main fuselage).

                                    My account of the story so far, with some interesting diagrams of the data we obtained, was published online at the Australian Antarctic Division:

                                    http://www.antarctica.gov.au/about-a...ns-air-tractor

                                    There is another Mawsons Huts Foundation expedition going south this year 2011, which will dig for the fuselage - and hopefully find it!

                                    Dr Chris Henderson
                                    Last edited by cjhtas; 18th October 2010, 01:58.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Mawsons Air Tractor no 1 or no 2?

                                      Mawson bought the second of Vickers REP monoplanes. The first one crashed and was a write off. Vickers did not want this to be publicised, so they re-badged No2 as No1. Mawsons Aeroplane has been called Vickers No1 ever since.

                                      The story of the monoplane before it went to Antarctica, and the story of our search, was presented at a conference called Antarctic Visions in Hobart in July 2010.

                                      I intend to edit videos of these talks and put them online, along with all the information we have about Mawsons Air Tractor.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Correct link

                                        Comment


                                         

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