1911 Vickers Antarctica Wreckage Possibly Found

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A single-engine Vickers abandoned on the Antarctic ice during the 1911-1914 Antarctic expedition of Australian Douglas Mawson may have been found on New Year's Day, 2010. If true, the find itself may be as unique as the circumstances that allowed for it. Wreckage was found on ice-encrusted rocks on the shore of Commonwealth Bay. Modern-day expedition leader Dr. Tony Stewart told Reuters, "Friday was the only day in several years when the rocks were sufficiently exposed and the tide was low enough." Only rusted lengths of metal tubing were found, but they match structural tubing from the monoplane's fuselage and the expedition believes they're a match. The Vickers was originally intended to fulfill Mawson's goal of launching the first human flight over the Antarctic ice cap, but that bid ended before it began.

The aircraft was damaged during a demonstration flight in October 1911, just prior to Mawson's expedition. Its still-intact fuselage was taken on the adventure, anyway, with hopes of using it as a tractor to haul gear across the ice. But once on location and on skis, it was found that the engine seized in the cold and the fuselage was abandoned where it sat at Cape Dawson.