Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Pilot Presumed Dead in Arctic Helicopter Crash

Canadian news agencies reported last week that the pilot of a helicopter that went missing along the coast of Baffin Island is believed to have perished in the crash, yet because they have not recovered a body, the pilot is officially registered as a missing person.

The Bell 206 Longranger helicopter disappeared Monday, Aug. 16, between Clyde River and Pond Inlet, located on the eastern and northern coasts of Baffin Island in Nunavut. The pilot had just dropped off Dr. Giff Miller, a University of Colorado, Boulder, professor of geologic sciences. Dr. Miller is studying the glacial history of the Arctic, focusing on glacial chronology and ice-sheet dynamics.

Last week the helicopter pilot dropped off the Miller crew in Qikiqtarjuaq on Broughton Island and crashed en route to the next job. The helicopter was traveling along a rough coastal area between Clyde River and Pond Inlet.

According to news reports, the weather was marginal and officials believe the helicopter pilot could not survive in the 6-degree centigrade water. In addition, searchers found an unused life raft in the wreckage. Parts of the helicopter’s fuselage, fuel tank and tail were found by searchers aboard the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Des Groseilliers.

The pilot’s name has not been released at the request of his family. Staff at Universal Helicopters said he has more than 15 years of experience, including three summers of working on contract with the Newfoundland and Labrador-based company.

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