Ice Cap Recovery of Aircraft 57- 492



By Earl Huddleston


In July of l966, I was assigned to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation to teach and provide technical assistance on the six C-130D ski aircraft that had been transferred from Dyess AFB, Texas, in 1964.  I was to remain there until July 1970.  Prior to that time, I had become quite familiar with the ski aircraft and had taught and provided technical assistance on the ski aircraft for a three-year period, leading to my selection to follow the aircraft to Alaska.  Included in my many duties was being on call to fly to Greenland to assist in any troubleshooting or repair of any of the ski aircraft that were on assignment to Sondrestrom, Greenland, to provide support for two Distant Early Warning sites, Dye II, and Dye III, on the Greenland Ice Cap.  The aircraft problems were many and varied, requiring a visit to Sondrestrom on the average of once every three weeks.  The duration of my visits ranged from as short as six hours to as long as six weeks.





My longest visit was in October, 1968, when I was notified that ski aircraft 57-492 had crashed during an attempted landing at Dye II and that I was to go to Sondrestrom as part of the investigating team to investigate the crash.




Upon our arrival at Sondrestrom, we were flown to Dye II, approximately thirty minutes away.  From the first look, we could see that the aircraft had landed in an upright position with the left wing down in the snow, with the two left landing gears and attached ski approximately 200 yards from the aircraft.  The aircraft was approximately three-fourth's of a mile from the Dye Site. 





From all indications, the left front main landing gear had separated from the aircraft when the aircraft sat down in the snow, followed by the aft main landing gear, causing the two landing gear and attached ski to swirl toward the rear of the aircraft.  The swirling combination knocked loose the landing gear door and the wheel well fairing and continued to the rear of the aircraft, where considerable damage was done to the aft fuselage structure behind the left paratrooper door. 



It then hit and damaged the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer and continued outward from the aircraft.  When the landing gear separated from the aircraft, it permitted the left wing to drop into the snow, damaging the wing tip, the left aileron and the left pylon tank.


Photographs courtesy of Earl Huddleston




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