A Melting Swiss Glacier Has Revealed A Plane Lost For 72 Years


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

The region where the plane crashed. rjheijs/Shutterstock

A plane that crash-landed in the Swiss Alps shortly after World War Two has been found after a heatwave thawed the surrounding snow.

The plane was an American C-53 Skytrooper, also known as a Dakota. It had been flying from Tulin, Austria, to Pisa, Italy, on November 18, 1946, but the pilots decided to take a detour via Munich when a heavy snowstorm kicked in.


The crew lost their way, however, and ended up crash-landing on the Gauli Glacier in the Bernese Alps at a speed of about 280 kilometers per hour (174 miles per hour). Amazingly, all eight passengers and four crew members survived and were rescued five days later – but the plane was lost.

That was until 2012, when a propeller of the plane was found. And now, unusually warm temperatures in Switzerland have revealed more of the buried plane, unveiling a field of debris that includes its wings, and even personal effects like hangers, tin cans, and spoons.

According to the website Le Matin, the plane hit the southern flank of the Berglistock mountain and came to rest at an altitude of 3,500 meters (11,500 feet), about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Grindelwald ski resort.

A similar plane to the one that crashed. Edvard Majakari/Wikimedia

It took three days to locate the wreck, as it was thought it had crashed in the French Alps. About 150 rescuers took part in the effort to find the plane, with two planes dropping supplies to the survivors once they had been found.


“The wreck is a great folk tale,” the owner of a nearby mountain hut said, reported The Telegraph. “We have many visitors coming to us solely for the sake of the Dakota."

Like the rest of Europe, Switzerland has been busy baking in extreme temperatures this summer. The capital Bern, along with cities Baser and Lucerne, have all experienced the longest stretch of days over 30°C (86°F) since 1980. Some regions have experienced up to 35°C (95°F).

And that has resulted in glaciers melting across the region. The website Blick noted that the Rhone Glacier was losing about 10 centimeters (4 inches) of ice every day, while the Aletsch Glacier had become snow free during the heat, exposing the ice underneath two to three weeks earlier than usual.

So yes, on the one hand, climate change is unearthing lost relics from the past. On the other, it’s causing the world to literally melt. Fun times, eh.


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