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Twilight over a rocky outcrop and ocean.
Photo Credit: Mark Hunt
The P2V Neptune memorial plaque looks out toward the northwest. The old Wilkes Station is in front of the memorial as one reads the plaque, with the bay stretched out front and to the left. Behind the memorial is the plateau and the place where the Neptune went down.

FATAL AIRCRAFT CRASH AT WILKES 9 NOVEMBER 1961

A United States Navy P2V Neptune BUNO 140439 from Air Development Squadron Six (VX-6) and based at McMurdo Station had flown across Antarctica to the Russian station at Mirny. The purpose of the mission was for Dr. Edward C. Thiel to conduct an airborne magnetometer survey over the Continent. The aircraft called in at Wilkes after leaving Mirny on November 8th 1961, for an overnight stop to take on extra fuel before returning to McMurdo. The following morning it crashed on take-off from the basic airstrip on the plateau near here. Dr Thiel and four of the eight member crew were killed. The crash site is at Longitude 110°46'55" East; Latitude 66°15'41" South.

Bronze Plaque
 
Close-up of the memorial plaque.

Killed:

Edward C. Thiel, PhD. - USARP Geophysicist

LCDR William D. Counts, USN - VX-6

LTJG Romauld P. Compton, USN - VX-6

AMH1 William W. Chastain, USN - VX-6

ADR2 James L. Gray, USN - VX-6

Survivors:

LT Elias J. Stetz, USN - VX-6, Pilot

LTJG Ernest L. Hand, USN -VX-6, Co-Pilot

AE1 Jack C. Shaffer, USN-VX-6

AT2 Clarence C. Allen, USN-VX-6

This memorial was created and sponsored by the Old Antarctic Explorers Association (OAEA) of the USA and members of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) Wilkes 1961 wintering party. It was erected by the Casey Expeditioners over the summer 2011/2012.

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Curator: Peter Rejcek, Antarctic Support Contract | NSF Official: Winifred Reuning, Division of Polar Programs