Severe weather has forced rescue planes into standby after a Calgary-based aircraft went missing over Antarctica on Wednesday.
A ski-equipped Twin Otter, being flown by veteran N.W.T. pilot Bob Heath, from the South Pole to Terra Nova Bay when its emergency beacon went off en route and disappeared, belongs to Calgary's Kenn Borek Air.
The Calgary-based airline has made a name for itself by flying into the planet's most inhospitable environs, including operating heavily in the Arctic and Antarctica.
Because of the nature of the work, Kenn Borek has seen its fair share on incidents, but has reportedly only lost one crew member up to this point.
The company has also accomplished some noteworthy feats.
Heath was pilot to a great moment in Kenn Borek history -- he flew a Calgary-based crew to the South Pole Research Centre in Antarctica to retrieve a U.S. doctor suffering from pancreatitis in 2001.
Kenn Borek also undertook the nearly month-long recovery of a downed plane from the Antarctic plateau.
Below is a timeline of previous Kenn Borek Air incidents, rescues and crashes since the company was founded in 1970.
Story continues after the slideshow...
- On Feb. 28,1977, a Douglas C-47A C-FIQR crashed near Saglone, Quebec. No one was hurt.
- On Sept. 18, 1978, a Douglas C-47A C-FCRW was damaged beyond economic repair in a landing accident at Komakuk Airport, Northwest Territories. The plane approached the runway too quickly, trying to counter strong headwinds. The plane landed in a five foot embankment, on its nose. No one was killed in the crash.
- On May 7, 1982, a Douglas C-47A C-FQHF overran the runway at Calgary International Airport following an aborted take-off. The aircraft tried to take-off in slush and snow, didn't gain enough speed and overran into a ditch. No one was hurt.
- On 26 April 2001, Kenn Borek Air used a DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft to rescue Dr. Ron Shemenski from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. This was the first ever rescue from the South Pole during polar winter. The pilots faced temperatures around minus 70, high winds, snow and daylight limited to half an hour a day.
- On 20 December 2007, a Basler BT-67 C-FMKB was substantially damaged in a take-off accident at Mount Patterson, Antarctica when the take-off was attempted with insufficient speed for flight. Of the 12 people on board, only the co-pilot suffered minor injuries. Both sets of undercarriage collapsed and the port wing was damaged, but the aircraft was later repaired and returned to service.
- In 2009, the company was commissioned to recover the aircraft that had been involved in the accident nearly a year earlier. A 12-person Kenn Borek recovery crew spent 25 days at a remote field camp on the eastern side of the Antarctic Plateau to carry out the operation.
- On 25 October 2010, Beechcraft King Air C-FAFD en route from Edmonton City Centre to Kirby Lake, crashed southeast of Kirby Lake. One of the ten occupants on board was killed, four were seriously injured.
- On 4 November 2010, a hangar fire at Inuvik (Mike Zubko) Airport destroyed three aircraft owned by Kenn Borek Air and operated by Aklak Air. They were de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter C-GZVH, Beechcraft King Air C-GHOC and Beechcraft 99 C-FKBK. There were no injuries. The fire was caused by an emergency generator after a power outage.