An Orchestrated Litany of Lies: The crash of Air New Zealand flight 901

The wreckage of Air New Zealand flight 901 lies on the slopes of Mount Erebus in Antarctica. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
A brochure advertises Air New Zealand’s Antarctic flights. (New Zealand Geographic)
Air New Zealand’s Antarctic flight plan, approximately. (Google + own work)
Captain Jim Collins aboard his beloved DC-10. (New Zealand Herald)
ZK-NZP, the aircraft involved in the accident. (Eduard Marmet)
This remarkable footage was recovered from a camera found in the wreckage of flight 901. It depicts the atmosphere in the cabin and the views from the windows during the ill-fated flight. Everyone in this clip perished just minutes after it was taken. (RNZ)
Mount Erebus, seen from near McMurdo Station. (James Moore)
This was the terrible sight which greeted the first search teams to spot the crash site. (erebus.co.nz)
Ron Chippindale, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents. (Stuff.co.nz)
A participant in Operation Overdue stands in front of the remains of the DC-10 amid extremely harsh conditions. (The National Post)
A helicopter hovers of the vast debris field left by the enormous impact. Pieces of the plane slid for hundreds of meters across the ice while on fire. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The final waypoint of the nav track had been shifted 43 kilometers east, taking the route over Mount Erebus. (BBC)
This photo of Beaufort Island was taken by a passenger just minutes before the crash. It proved that the plane was in visual conditions with a layer of overcast overhead. (The Royal Commission of Inquiry)
The last photo taken by a passenger on board flight 901. It is likely that the force of the impact caused the photographer to involuntarily close the shutter. (New Zealand Transport Accidents Investigation Commission)
The crash site as it appeared from a distance — a black streak across a sea of white. (Operation Overdue)
A participant in Operation Overdue walks past the wreckage of the DC-10’s center fuselage section. Beaufort Island, pictured in the earlier photo taken from on board the plane, can be seen in the upper right. (Stuff.co.nz)
The iconic logo of Air New Zealand, still visible on the shattered remains of the plane’s tail, became a visceral symbol of the disaster. (Colin Monteath)
Justice Peter Mahon, an enigmatic figure who became far more famous than he ever could have imagined. (RNZ)
(Google + own work)
The burnt-out remains of the center fuselage section. (erebus.co.nz)
Recovery workers used color-coded flags to mark various objects, including items of interest and human remains. (New Zealand Office of Air Accidents Investigation)
A close-up of the plane’s severed tail. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
How the terrain on the approach to the crash site could have misled the crew. (The Royal Commission of Inquiry)
Although some of the photos of the crash site make it look flat, it was actually on a fairly steep slope high above the ocean. (New Zealand Transport Accidents Investigation Commission)
A lonely piece of the airplane, pictured above, was still visible on the surface many years after the crash. (Stuff.co.nz)
A photo from an earlier Antarctic flight shows the plane clearly lower than Mount Erebus. (New Zealand Geographic)
The DC-10’s shattered landing gear lies amid the debris field. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
Looking down the wreckage trail into the distant sea. (New Zealand Transport Accidents Investigation Commission)
The previously pictured landing gear came to rest near the tail. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
An oncoming storm looms over the wreckage of TE901. (New Zealand Transport Accidents Investigation Commission)
Extreme glare amid the overabundance of white surfaces is clearly evident in this photo from Operation Overdue. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The force of the impact catapulted the heavy #2 engine clear out of its nacelle. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The famous Mahon Report, possibly the most widely read aircraft accident report in history. (The Royal Commission of Inquiry)
Recovery workers search for human remains amid foggy weather at the crash site. (New Zealand Herald)
Recovery crews work at the burnt-out center section. (nzhistory.govt.nz)
Over time, blowing snow started to pile up against each of the thousands upon thousands of pieces of wreckage. (stuff.co.nz)
Disgraced former Air New Zealand CEO Morrie Davis. (New Zealand Herald)
A brochure for Qantas’s ongoing Antarctic sightseeing flights. (Qantas)
During the frequent storms which strafed the mountainside, the crash site became a place of indescribable terror. (erebus.co.nz)
And as the recovery crews left for the last time, they looked back at the same sight which greeted them upon their arrival: a streak of black across a sea of white. (erebus.co.nz)
A cross atop a hill near McMurdo Station, in the shadow of Mount Erebus, commemorates the victims of the disaster. (New Zealand Geographic)

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Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.

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Admiral Cloudberg

Admiral Cloudberg

Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.