ODE TO THE LAST OF THE R4D GOONIE BIRDS
by Billy-Ace Penguin Baker
A total of 13 R4Ds were "written off" by AirDevRon Six during
the years that they were used in Antarctica.
The Goonie 99832 which was rebuilt from parts cannibalized from other Goonies, such as Charlene, crashed and exploded during DF-66 killing the crew of six men. After this fatal crash, which was in support of a field party, the Goonies were mostly used for cargo flight and most of these were shuttles to Hallett Station and back to Mcmurdo. Rickity Rack.
During DF-68, only one of the three remaining Goonies was put into operation. This aircraft made 25 flights and and flew 86 hours. On 2 December 1967 on a routine cargo mission to Hallett Stations, this aircraft, made the last flight of a USN Goonie in Antarctica.
At the end of the year that season when the last of VX-6's three remaining Goony Birds were being back loaded aboard the USNS Pvt. John R. Towle all hands cheered and said good bye, and good riddance. But when one of the planes, while being loaded on the deck of the ship, was dropped and smashed, grown men shed tears. The wings had been removed from the three aircraft (photo attached) and during loading BUNO 99853 slipped from the sling and was so badly damaged that it was abandoned.
Being a true Old Antarctic Explorer of long standing--99853 had arrived on the ice on 1 October 1957--she did not give up easily, after being dropped from the sling the aircraft was pushed out on the ice to drift away and sink but was still plainly visible from McMurdo a year later. After that it was gone.
It is not known how many Douglas DC-3s remain entombed in the Antarctic, but only one--832--claimed the lives of men. The versatile aircraft was immortalized in Antarctica by having three geographic locations on the map of Antarctica named after it:
Dakota Pass, R4D Nunatak, and Skytrain Rise.
References: "Flying The Midnight Sun", by Al Muenchen, 1972.
"Dakotas in the Antarctic", History and Research
Division US NSFA, September 1970.
Well done Good and Faithful Servant.......