At the tail end of 1946, the United States navy sent an expedition into the stark cold of Antarctica to photograph the terrain from the air and lay claim to the huge continent at the bottom of the globe. Many of the navy's men on the expedition were fresh from service in the recently ended World War II. This is the story of nine of those men, ...
At the tail end of 1946, the United States navy sent an expedition into the stark cold of Antarctica to photograph the terrain from the air and lay claim to the huge continent at the bottom of the globe. Many of the navy's men on the expedition were fresh from service in the recently ended World War II. This is the story of nine of those men, betrayed by an enemy of another kind. As their plane flew above that desolate continent, the weather threw a "whiteout" - a combination of a slanting sheet of ice on the land and low clouds that make it seem the air ahead is clear when it is not. The blinded plane slammed into a mountainside and exploded. Three men were killed; others were injured, most of them seriously. Their only shelter was the badly damaged fuselage. They had a food supply intended for a few-days trip, and no way to communicate with their rescuers. For thirteen days the men waited for discovery - or death. Even when they made contact with another seaplane, which led them from the air, they had to struggle, wounded as they were, several miles through blizzard winds, snow, and ice to reach safety. David A. Kearns is the son of Bill Kearns, the pilot who was at the controls when George 1 crashed. He embarks on this harrowing tale fueled by extensive research, including interviews with survivors and their families. With a compelling narrative drive and a lot of heart, Kearns trumpets this breathtaking survival story as a shining moment in 20th century American history.
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-08-22 Though Kearns's gripping debut is not the first account of the crash of the Martin PBM seaplane George 1 in Antarctica in December 1946, his is the most recent and most complete, unfolding with page-turning immediacy. The plane was part of Operation Highjump, a mammoth U.S. Navy survey expedition that set out to photomap Antarctica under the leadership of hardy polar perennial Adm. Richard E. Byrd. The George 1 crashed in a whiteout, and three of the nine crewmen died. The others survived their injuries and two weeks of Antarctic weather, thanks to personal ingenuity, hardihood, courage, the leadership of Capt. Henry Caldwell and the salvaging of adequate food. Their radios didn't work, but a shoestring search-and-rescue operation finally spotted their smoke signals. All were flown out safely and returned home, although pilot Ralph LeBlanc lost his legs. Copilot Bill Kearns lived to become the author's father. With intimate access to surviving sources, plus a depth of personal commitment, the author makes a compelling addition to survival literature. (Nov. 15) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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