French pilots crash on Greenland Ice Cap Skip to content

French pilots crash on Greenland Ice Cap

Two French pilots had to make an emergency landing in their small airplane on the Greenland Ice Cap on Tuesday night. A Danish navy crew took the pilots, who had suffered minor injuries, to the hospital in Tasilaq and they will arrive in Iceland today.

The pilots, Delesalle and Tochet, began their journey in Paris on July 14 and had stopped in Scotland and the Faroe Islands before crossing Greenland. They were on their way to Oshkosh, in Wisconsin, USA, to attend an airplane show, Morgunbladid reports.

The airplane was accompanied by five helicopters. The plane had been scheduled to land in Kulusuk and from there fly to Tangerlussuaq on Greenland’s western shore. But the pilots had to make an emergency landing on the ice cap due to bad weather.

Delesalle described to Morgunbladid what had happened to her and her partner after the crash. “He had difficulty breathing to begin with. He still made it out of the airplane and dragged me out. For the first half hour I was very confused; I didn’t know my name, what had happened or what we were doing on that glacier.”

The pilots could not be rescued until 28 hours after the crash because of weather conditions; there were low hanging clouds and poor visibility. But an emergency crew had managed to drop emergency supplies down to them.

Delesalle said they had not been desperate because they knew help was on the way. “Soon after the crash we noticed helicopters, I don’t think more than three hours had passed. […] We had blankets, a little food and water so it wasn’t that bad.”

A helicopter from the Danish navy finally reached the pilots and airlifted them to the research ship Hvidbjoernen, which brought them to the hospital in Tasiliaq. Delesalle thanked the Danish navy for the rescue. “We wouldn’t be alive today without them.”

Delesalle and Tochet will be released from hospital today and will arrive in Reykjavík in the afternoon. Tomorrow they will fly back to Paris. Delesalle said they would not try to fly this route again anytime soon; their airplane is also severely damaged.

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