Update March 18. 1200 zulu time – My Heart goes out
On a weather worn flagpost the State and War flag of Norway is flying at half mast.
His Majesty the King of Norway, fellow officers and the chaplain has just finished the memorial service at the Evenes Air Force Base, commemorating the loss of five fellow officers.
My heart goes out to the families of the loved and lost crew. I also send my thoughts to all the personnel that have risked, and still are risking their lives in order to bring home the lost crew from an altitude of 2 kilometers. They have defied hurricane winds, snow, visibility of – sometimes just a few meters – dodging the avalanches that has come down the mountains, as they battled for days to rescue the lost crew.
Now – unfortunately – all hope is lost…
Update March 17 – 1645 zulu time – thousands of pieces of downed Hercules scattered over large area
Unfortunately it looks like there is no hope of finding the crew of five from the transport plane “Siv” that went missing the other day.
Thousands of pieces of the aircraft has been found on the mountain Kebnekaise at an altitude of around 2,000 meters. The transport plane was en route from Evenes, Norway to Kiruna, Sweden to pick up, and transport military personnel back to Norway. This tragedy could have been much bigger, but that is probably not any consolation for the ones left behind from the crew of five…
Update March 17. 1200 zulu time – wreckage found…
The missing Hercules C-130J transport plane – with a crew of 5 – I have been writing about the last couple of days, is confirmed found near the top of the highest mountain in Sweden, Kebnekaise. Norwegian patrols are at the top now giving assistance to Swedish Rescue Climbers rappelling into the glacier area where the wreckage is spread.
The chances of finding the crew safe and sound is unfortunately bleak.
The weather in the area is somewhat better today, but not good. The risk og avalanches is very high indeed.
Update 1600 zulu time – Watch police helicopter land in the search area
If you have the patients to watch 10-12 seconds with Norwegian commercials first, this video gives a pretty good impression about the weather conditions in the search area and what the rescue teams have to battle with in the Sweedish mountains… http://www.vgtv.no/#!id=50577
Update 1540 zulu time – Possible wreckage observed by mountain peak
It’s been more than 24 hour since the Hercules disappeared. There has been made some observations by a Norwegian Orion surveillance plane of some orange material near a mountain top. Right now a Norwegian Sea King is trying to fly into the area, but the weather is grim. A British surveillance plane (E-2C Hawkeye) is en route from England to Sweden to assist in the search.
The risk of avalanches is extreme and the progress is slow going.
Update 1100 zulu time – Still not found
The weather is really bad and there is still no trace from the missing Norwegian Hercules. And as time goes by, the chances for finding survivors are diminishing in the freezing and stormy weather. According to the news channel NRK, the radarlog shows that the plane flew towards the highest mountain in Sweden, Kebnekaise at a level 100 meters higher. The theory now is that the plane, for unknown reasons has crashed into the mountain.
The crew members has been released to the media.
Update 0900 zulu time – Denmark, Sweden and Norway
Right now the good neighbors of the Nordic Countries have pooled their ressources and although they have searched all night, new and rested troops are taking their way up the valleys and mountains to regain the terrain that was lost due to the extreme weather during the night.
Update 2200 zulu time – Extreme Weather – 20 meters visibility
The weather in the Swedish mountains – where the Norwegian Hercules C130J Transport Plane went missing earlier today – is worsening. The visibility is reported now to be 20 meters and the risk of avalanches is extreme. An F16 fighter jet picked up 3 “hot spots” on its infrared search equipment earlier this evening, but the mountain search and rescue teams haven’t found anything in that area.
The small 335 Squadron based on Gardermoen Airport (also the main Airport in Norway) hopes for the best for their friends missing. The crew’s names has been released.
- Ståle Garberg (eng.: Staale Garberg)
- Truls Ørpen (eng.: Truls Oerpen)
- Bjørn Yngvar Haug (eng.: Bjoern Yngvar Haug)
- Siw Robertsen
- Steinar Utne
All highly experienced.
Update 2000 zulu time – still missing up in the mountains
The Norwegian cargo airplane that went missing 1355 zulu time is still not found. According to the news at 2000 zulu time, the faint radio signal that should have been picked up by a Danish SAR EH-101 helicopter is not confirmed.
This cargo airplane is extremely sturdy. I have flown with the old C130. The plane missing is brand new. It has a Go-Around-Autopilot with Auto-Throttle, which enables the plane to take immediate control and climb if it inadvertently is steered towards the ground. That makes this all the more puzzling, and a heavy rotor turbulence associated with Lee Wave in between the mountains could maybe be an explanation, but this is a mere speculation for my part.
In any case, I hope and pray the crew has made it, but time is critical for survivors. It is freezing in the snowy winter mountains.
Update 1830 zulu time – faint radio signal picked up
In relation to my previous post – crew of five missing – news update at 1830 zulu time was that a Danish SAR helicopter has picked up a faint radio signal, most likely from the emergency positioning radio beacon from the missing airplane just across the border on the Swedish side. The signal was picked up near Kebnekaise, the highest mountain in Sweden (2,106 meters). As the picture illustrates, the Kebnekaise mountain region is on a clear day extreme terrain. And right now it is night and extremely low visibility according to a Swedish reporter in the area.
Crew of Five missing – Hercules C130J lost in the mountains
There has been a lot of activity in the air around Narvik. Several heavy aircrafts have been buzzing up in the clouds. Nothing unusual, like I wrote yesterday, there is a huge military exercise in Northern-Norway these days. An hour ago the Sea King (Search And Rescue helicopter, Royal Norwegian Air Force) landed for refueling at Narvik Airport, Framnes. Furthermore, shortly after two Bell 412 helicopters flew by. All flying in the same direction.
Just now the news reports that a Norwegian Hercules C130J cargo airplane has been lost in the mountains between Norway and Sweden. The plane had a crew of 5 and was en route from Evenes in Norway to Kiruna in the Swedish mountains when it went missing. There is really low visibility in the mountains right now. Really sad.
32,600 feet treading on “eggshells” – The Deadly White Monster
These days 16,300 troops from 14 nations are battling the cold climate of Northern-Norway in the biggest joint military exercise in ten years Operation Cold Response (well, the name says it all).
But they are battling a real, and very dangerous enemy. The 5. March 1986 a platoon of Engineers was working on a route for belt-vehicles through the Valley of Vassdalen. An avalanche started high in one of the mountain sides and came thundering down towards the soldiers.
I remember it like it was yesterday. My uncle – a police officer – was flown in with his service dog Arco, a highly trained avalanche rescue dog. They were in the middle of an exercise in Saltfjellet mountain region when the call came in. All day long an endless chain of hueys – Bell UH-1 – helicopters came from the valley, landed on the airport here, and then flew in again. After having spent several days without sleep, my uncle finally got som R&R.
I met him at the local police-station. Arco, his German Shepherd police dog just lay there, totally exhausted and my uncle was very worn. His face said it all. Digging all those victims out of the snow and seeing what terrible destiny had struck them down had, set a lifelong mark in my uncle. 16 soldiers were killed in that accident. The heaviest loss of Norwegian military personnel in peace-time.
And right now, 32,600 feet are really walking on eggshells. The Avalanche Warning is currently at its highest! Lots and lots of snow, combined with periods of mild weather earlier this month, and heavy winds, has set the scene for many new avalanches in the days to come. So I cross my fingers that the guys and girls out there tread lightly and stay away from the danger-areas. I am crossing my fingers that all the 32,600 coming into the area also will exit the area, unskaved, every last one of them.