Audio & Video GALLERY

Impact Erebus Two

The crash of Flight 901 was the loneliest of the world’s air disasters. On 28 November 1979, the Air New Zealand DC10 with 257 people aboard took off from Auckland International Airport and flew 2000 miles southwards to the Antarctic, to plunge into the slopes of Mt Erebus, a 20,000-foot volcano. Nine hours later, a US Navy aircraft from McMurdo Station sighted the wreckage – a brown smear on the ice. Nobody survived.

Yet for all its isolation it was one of the best documented catastrophes. The aircraft’s electronics sensors were working and decipherable. Almost every passenger on the sightseeing trip carried cameras and shot film up to the last second. This was a painstakingly salvaged and developed. And Antarctic weather scientists were monitoring local weather patterns, and receiving sophisticated film from satellites. But still the cause eluded investigators. Why should a skilled crew, with an Antarctic explore on the flight deck, fly straight into a mountain wall in clear weather? The crew was blamed. It took nearly two years for the fog to lift from the mystery. Gordon Vette, a fellow pilot of Captain Jim Collins, the man in command, could not accept the ‘pilot error’ verdict, and began his own study and investigations.

A Royal Commission headed by a forthright High Court Judge, dug deep into the planning and execution of the flight.

The result was a story which is eerie in its implications for airmen. Even with the most modern instruments available, nature can still spring traps beyond prediction and even the best run airline could become the victim of a computer error.

Pilot, qualified navigator and engineer, Gordon Vette’s involvement with aviation is as broad as it is deep. His research into the Erebus disaster was prompted by his strong sense of fair play and the sure knowledge that a re-enactment of the tragedy can only be prevented by finding its true cause, regardless of how much masking takes place as a result of political or economic considerations. His scientific investigations of the accident brought to light the way a sequence of error and unforeseen natural phenomena combined to entrap the Flight 901 crew.

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Erebus Related Video Footage


Flight 901 to Erebus

Flight 901 to Erebus

Documentary produced by John Keir on the Royal Commission of Inquiry in to the DC-10 crash at Mt Erebus in Antarctica.


IFALPA Conference 2009 Part 1

Presentation about Flight TE901

Presentation given by NZALPA's President Mark Rammell about the events of flight TE901, which was presented to Delegates at the 2009 IFALPA conference in Auckland, March 2009.

 Jim Collins Award

IFALPA Conference 2009 Part 2

Presentation of the 2009 Jim Collins Award

The presentation of the 2009 Jim Collins Award posthumously to Justice Peter Mahon at the 2009 IFALPA conference in Auckland, March 2009.


IFALPA Conference 2009 Part 3

IFALPA Presidential Citation to Gordon Vette

Presentation of an IFALPA Presidential Citation to Captain Gordon Vette at the 2009 IFALPA conference in Auckland, March 2009.


TVNZ Footage

Mahon Report Tabled

News items of the 1999 Tabling of the Mahon Report in NZ Parliment


Radio NZ Sound Archives

John Blumsky, former Senior Journalist, Radio New Zealand in Antarctica to cover the Erebus crash in 1979.  John was the only broadcast journalist sent to Antarctica to cover the disaster for the world media. The reports, which were telephoned from the ice, include news on body recovery, salvage operations, strain at Scott Base and a description of the crash scene.

Below is a list of footage from the Erebus tragedy.

Please click here to visit the Sound Archives page to listen to the footage.


John Blumsky Report One

John Blumsky's first report from a telephone booth at the ice. (duration: 108)

John Blumsky describes the crash scene. (duration: 049)

John Blumsky updates listeners on the salvage operations. (duration: 044)

Work at Scott Base is suspended, as there is a planned flight from McMurdo to the South Pole to mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight over the South Pole in 1947 by Admiral R.E. Byrd. . (duration: 054)

Radio New Zealand news programme Checkpoint features extensive coverage from the Erebus disaster. (duration: 1801)


Audio Files

Below is a list of audio footage from the Erebus tragedy. All this content is held in NZ Archives collections. It is searchable by using their Archway Archiving system.

WARNING: Due to the age of these recordings, some of these tracks are affected by interference. Please ensure you turn your volume down before playing these tracks.


Name Description
Wreckage Find Radio communications between search aircraft and McMurdo Station when the aircraft is found, 28 November 1979. (CH282 Box 13 item 17: Radio communications. Search for Flight 901)
Commentary 1 Commentary by R.B. Thomson on Flight 901 21/11/79. (CH282 Box 13 item 16: Flight 901. Commentary RB Thompson). 31 Minutes.
Commentary 2 Commentary with expert commentator RB Thompson on an earlier flight of TE901. (CH282 Box 13 item 16: Flight 901. Commentary RB Thompson). 9 Minutes.
Searchcomms Radio communications between search aircraft and McMurdo Station, 28 November 1979. (CH282 Box 13 item 17: Radio communications. Search for Flight 901) 31 Minutes