Huge Effort Recovers Basler From Antarctica
A Basler BT-67 turboprop DC-3 conversion is safely tucked in a warm hangar in Calgary, Alberta after spending a year shattered and broken on a glacier in Antarctica. Its owner, Kenn Borek Air, mounted a huge on-site repair effort for the modernized warbird, named Lidia, before flying it back to Calgary in January. The story was told in a web video produced by Don Wray, an Alaska outfitter who was a member of the support crew for the massive undertaking. The aircraft was taking off from Holtanna Glacier on Dec. 20, 2012, when its wheel skis hit a hidden ice drift, tearing off the gear and sending the props spinning from the engines. No one aboard was hurt and they were picked up by another Kenn Borek plane but Lidia was left in what some may have thought would be her final resting place.
Back in Calgary, Kenn Borek staff were working the numbers and decided the aircraft could be saved. A year later, technicians, engineers and a camp staff were flown back to the glacier in an Il-76 to mount the rescue. Lidia was dug out, jacked up, the gear, nose section and props were replaced and numerous holes and dings fixed on the airframe. With only hours to spare before the Russian transport was due to pick them up, the Basler came out of the hole under its own power and took off for a nearby airbase. The aircraft is scheduled to return to regular service in Antarctica for next season.