While looking for suitable shore-side landing spots for guests travelling onboard the expedition ship Orion, Mawson’s Huts Foundation team member Mark Farrell has uncovered remnant metal piping from Douglas Mawson’s mono-plane, taken with Mawson almost a century ago on his 1911 Antarctic expedition.
Built just eight years after the Wright brothers’ first flight, this aircraft was the first produced by the Vickers factory in Britain, and the first taken to either polar region.
Transported to Antarctica without its wings, the plane was used for a time as a motorised sledge before eventually being abandoned because its Vickers engine succumbed to the extreme temperatures, described by Mawson as having “developed an internal disorder”.
The plane was last seen in the mid-1970s when Antarctic researchers photographed the ice-encrusted fuselage. Unusually low tides, in combination with unprecedented melting of ice had exposed the rusty remnants, found on New Year’s Day 2010.