Mike, apart from the pilots not being where they thought they were, ithas been established that flat light/white out is exactly the reason why they flew into Eribus. Theysimply did not see a mountain right in front of them. And even when the ground proximity indicator went off, they could not see wahy. They were in the process of powering up to pull up out of there and smacked into the mountain side at full power.
It's a disarster in NZ history
that I reckon touched every Kiwi in away no other disarster ever has. Either someone knew someone on the plan or new someone involved or was involvedin some way.
For me, I was a Teen in my early working career. I was also involved with the local country fire crew. We were put on standby as we were one of the small country towns on the Airpath for returning planes from the Ice. At that stage, no one in NZ knew where the plane was and if it was making it's way back to NZ. It was going to be very low on fuel
and most likely not make it back to the runway, so we were all on alert. Of course, nothing came and not long after, the plane was found as a smudge mark on the side of a mountain.
The most shocking thing for me was, I couldn't believe how such a large aircraft could be reduced to such small debre.
I don't think it happens much anymore. But way back then, it was not uncommon for a C130 to "just" make it back flying on fumes. I often used to see a US C130 come in over our farm "hedge hopping" making a final approach for the runway still many miles away. We lived in a restricted air space were our RNZAF pilots trained, so normal air rules didn't apply.
Also wayback then, (at least I "hope" it doesn't still happen) the US aircraft would land at CHCH, and a US truck would meet them over the far side of the airport
. THEN the plane would taxy back across to the Airport
and go through customs