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Revelling modern-day Antarctic discoverers, closeted in the luxurious pressurised cocoon of one of the world's most sophisticated jetliners, crowded the windows to capture glimpses through the murky cloud of the icy wonderland they'd travelled 3000 miles to see.

'We'll have to climb out of this,' the DC1O captain realised-but too late. The powerful jet with 257 people on board was in the grasp of Antarctica's terrifyingly unpredictable weather. The warning alert sounded too late-the captain's order was given too late- for the three engines to power the great plane higher to avoid the concrete-hard icy slopes of the continent's active volcano, Mount Erebus.

On 28 November 1979 the Air New Zealand Flight 901 sightseeing excursion ended in tragedy, a few miles from the New Zealand and United States scientific stations of Scott Base and McMurdo. All passengers and crew members died instantly in this the Antarctic's and New Zealand's worst disaster. It was also a crushing blow to the DC1O-the third major calamity for the McDonnell Douglas jet in six months. To that date, it was the world's fourth worst aircraft fatality.

This fully informed, moving account provides an authoritative and factual insight into all aspects of the disaster and its aftermath, based on the author's thorough research, his sensitive interviewing and his accurate re- porting of the lengthy inquest, investigation and inquiry. His wide-ranging but unsensational approach reveals the human drama behind the scenes; it weaves the tragedy into the colourful and heroic past of Antarctic exploration and sets it in its international aviation perspective; and it traces its conse- quences as it deeply affected a nation, an airline and a dedicated scientific community seasonally at work on the ice.

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  • Seller location: Waitakere City, Auckland, NZ

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