Glacier Melt Reveals Wreckage Of Plane That Crashed 50 Years Ago

Ryan Ford
A view of the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland
Wikimedia Commons | Tallin

There's no doubt about it: the face of our planet is changing. From permafrost melting in the Arctic to major rivers drying up in Europe and seas disappearing in Asia, the world our kids inherit will not look the same as the one we grew up with.

One of the stranger aspects of the effects of climate change has been what it has brought to light. Just look at Lake Mead, where receding water levels amid a historic drought have revealed the remains of four people since May 2022 — so far.

Now, a melting glacier in Switzerland has shed light on 50-year-old plane crash as wreckage has poked up through the ice.

Plane wreckage poking up from a Swiss glacier under blue skies
instagram | @konkordiahuette

On June 30, 1968, a Piper Cherokee crashed in the Swiss Alps. At the time, recovering plane wreckage from an alpine glacier simply wasn't possible.

And so, the plane's wreckage remained on the Aletsch Glacier, under ice, for more than half a century.

Plane wreckage on a Swiss glacier
instagram | @konkordiahuette

Only when the glacier melted enough under a scorching European summer was the wreckage revealed. A hiking guide, out mapping new routes around the rapidly melting glaciers, happened upon the wreckage, according to regional newspaper 24 Heures.

The 1968 plane crash claimed three lives.

Plane wreckage on a glacier
instagram | @konkordiahuette

On board were a teacher, a medical officer, and his son, all from Zurich. Their bodies were recovered at the time, but obviously the wreckage and any information it might have shed on the cause of the crash remained buried.

The summer of 2022 has been just as revealing for the Alps as it has been for Lake Mead.

plane wreckage on a Swiss glacier
instagram | @konkordiahuette

It's not just 50-year-old plane wrecks — human remains have been discovered on multiple occasions.

As The Guardian reported, one body was discovered on the Stockji Glacier, near the resort of Zermatt. German media have reportedly linked those human remains to a wealthy supermarket owner who went missing in the area in 2018, and was declared dead in 2021.

However, one of the hikers who found the body thinks that's unlikely.

Luc Lechanoine reportedly told Blick newspaper that the body they found wore bright neon clothing "in the style of the '80s," and the corpse was mummified and "almost complete."

Yet more human remains were discovered by mountaineers on Switzerland's Chessjen Glacier.

The bones were reportedly found near a hiking path that hasn't been in use for at least a decade, and they were airlifted off the glacier to be identified. Authorities believe the remains must be from someone who died "sometime in the 1970s or '80s."

Complicating matter of identifying the remains is the sheer number of missing people in the region.

articles of clothing discovered with a plane wreck on a glacier
instagram | @konkordiahuette

According to The Guardian, the Swiss authorities have a list of about 300 people who have gone missing in the area since 1925.

h/t: The Guardian