Tuesday, March 16, 2021

White Silence - the story of the Erebus disaster

I have recently started listening to podcasts. A bit late to the trend I suppose, but, as they say, better late than never. I've selected a couple of aviation podcasts [and a couple that are not at all aviation related].

There is one about the Air New Zealand Erebus disaster on 28 November 1979 that I have found very very very interesting. Flight TE901 was operated as a scenic flight to Antarctica and utilised one of Air New Zealand's [then] state-of-the-art McDonnell Douglas DC10-30's, ZK-NZP.

The podcast is called White Silence and has been produced by two media organisations, Stuff and Radio New Zealand.

Erebus was, and remains, New Zealand's biggest aviation disaster, and perhaps one of the biggest disasters in aviation - certainly in the top few when it occured.

The introduction on the linked website starts with the following

On November 28, 1979, an Air New Zealand jet took off from Auckland Airport on a sightseeing trip to Antarctica. There were 257 people on board. Hours later everyone was dead.

That's a blunt, but pretty good summary of what kicked this off, although it doesn't even start to touch the impact on New Zealanders at the time, and in some ways, to this day. The politics, the trauma, of the subsequent investigations and retribution handed out are almost unbelievable 40 years later and are well covered in this podcast series.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry [presided over by Justice Peter Mahon] gave rise to one of the greatest statements [in my not-so-humble 😏 opinion] ever uttered by a judge, aimed directly at the airline and its actions and testimony after the accident. This statement was

An orchestrated litany of lies

Imagine this statement being levelled at any participant in a Royal Commission of Inquiry! An orchestrated litany of lies! And this, in a day when the airline was not only owned by, but in some ways, controlled by the Government. Whether fair or not, it was [and probably remains] as divisive and controversial a comment as it may appear.

If you have any interest in aviation, and particularly aviation disasters, this is almost certainly a must-listen-to podcast. It is consumed in eight episodes ranging in length from around 30 minutes to just over an hour.

Click on the image above [or click here] to access the podcast. It is well worth the listen! The website also contains links to other pictures, video and other interesting information.

Note: The above image is from the White Silence podcast website.

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