On November 22, 1952, the C-124 Globemaster, an American military plane, crashed into Mount Gannett, north of Anchorage, Alaska. The crash, sadly, took the lives of 52 people (41 passengers and 11 crew members).
Since that particular area was prone to extremely harsh weather and a frozen landscape, the crews couldn’t survey the site and identify the remains. The contents of the C-124 Globemaster eventually slid down the mountain, becoming embedded in the Colony Glacier.
There were no visible signs of the wreckage for decades until 2012 when a yellow life raft was spotted on the glacier during a training session for the military.
The glacier was gradually receding and pouring into Lake George, indicating that the plane could easily sink to the lake’s depths. Thus, nobody would be able to access it.
With the possibility of losing the wreckage forever, annual searches were conducted at the site of the plane every summer when the weather was decent.
Army Staff Sgt. Isaac Redmond, the mountaineering expert for the 2020 excavation, told the Associated Press: “The reality of the situation is all of the debris and the remains are constantly falling to crevasses.”
The same year, a recovery effort lasted for almost a month, where remains were discovered approximately 200 meters from the glacier’s toe (where the ice calves fall into the lake).
All of the human remains were finally identified, except for nine that were onboard the flight. Objects that were found included a Buddha figurine, a flight suit, and a few 3-cent stamps, including a crumpled 1952 Mass schedule for St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C.
The Colony Glacier is situated near a few other glaciers that are also disappearing due to increasingly hotter temperatures.
Unfortunately, Barry Glacier (located about 100 km east of Anchorage), is retreating at a slow pace and is exhibiting signs of causing a potentially catastrophic disaster within the next 20 years.
Scientists from Canada, Germany, and the U.S. predict that Barry Glacier’s unstable mountain slope could catastrophically collapse, sending millions of ice tons hurling into the Harriman Fjord. This collision could trigger a massive tsunami over 30 meters tall.
Upon reaching Prince William Sound – an area home to almost 300,000 people and frequently visited by fishing vessels, hunters, and tourists – the tsunami would be 10 meters.
According to scientists’ calculations, a landslide-generated tsunami will likely happen in two decades. The Arctic has already witnessed this type of tsunami, an indication of a concerning trend that is becoming more and more apparent as global temperatures continually rise.