Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Expedition’s lost plane belonging to Frizinghall-born man located 99 years after it was last seen
The remains of an historic aeroplane taken to Antarc-tica by a Bradford-born explorer almost a century ago have been found by team of Australian conservationists.
The plane, the first to be taken to either polar region, was used as a tractor for towing gear but its engine could not withstand the extreme weather conditions and it was abandoned.
Conservationists from the Mawson’s Huts Foundation, who are working to restore wooden huts built by the explorer, have found metal pieces from the plane among rocks in Commonwealth Bay.
They had been looking for the plane for several years, using a range of electronic devices including ground-penetrating radar and metal detectors.
Team member Chris Henderson said on the foundation’s blog: “It vindicates our continuing search: many people have said it was blown out to sea or taken away by the ice.
“It doesn’t matter that the various pieces of equipment weren’t successful – what matters is that the facts showed it should still have been where it was left – and it was.”
The plane, the first aircraft to come from the famous Vickers factory, was built in 1911, eight years after the Wright brothers made the first flight.
Sir Douglas had removed its wings before the expedition left Australia after they were damaged during a demonstration flight.
The explorer, who attended both Bingley and Bradford Grammar schools and later moved to Australia with his parents, first went to the Antarctic with Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 expedition.
He later turned down an offer to join an expedition led by Robert Scott, instead setting out on his own voyage in 1911 to chart a 2,000-mile stretch of the Antarctic coastline and reach the South Pole.
The expedition saw him struggle alone for 30 days after one of his companions fell down a hidden crevasse and the other died from lack of food. Sir Douglas, known as the “modern Columbus”, returned to the continent in 1926 in Scott’s former ship, The Discovery, equipped with a small aeroplane to help maintain contact between the boat and land.