Flight TE901 to Antarctica

Air New Zealand poster advertising its Antarctic flights for November 1979.

Flight TE901

On its first Antarctic flight in February 1977, Air New Zealand surveyed passengers on their reasons for making the trip. Many (44%) saw it as 'the opportunity of a lifetime', while others wanted to do it because it was 'something different' (18%) or were attracted by the adventure‚ąíexploration aspect (12%).

More is known about the passengers on the ill-fated flight of 28 November 1979, as their lives were pored over by the media after the crash. Tragic stories emerged of passengers who had won tickets in competitions or received them as gifts from close relatives.

Stories also emerged of people who could have been aboard, but chose an earlier flight or decided not to go. Travel agent Garry Hampton had been invited by Air New Zealand to go on the flight as a familiarisation trip, but then told about a week beforehand that it was overbooked.

While most of the 237 passengers on TE901 were New Zealanders, the trip also attracted people from overseas, including:

  • 24 Japanese
  • 22 Americans
  • 6 British
  • 2 Canadians
  • 1 Australian
  • 1 French
  • 1 Swiss

Captain Jim Collins was assigned to command the flight, with two first officers, two flight engineers and a cabin crew of 15. One of the flight engineers, Gordon Brooks, and a purser, Russell Scott, were the only crew members to have flown the Antarctic route before. For Peter Mulgrew, an unofficial crew member included in the passenger count, it was his fourth time serving as commentator.

Next page: The route qualification briefing 

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