It’s August 2018, and Europe has been sweltering in an unusually severe heatwave. And high in the Swiss Alps, the Gauli Glacier has been receding as a result of the high temperatures. As the glacier melts, however, it reveals evidence of a dramatic incident that occurred more than 70 years previously. You see, at this very spot in November 1946, an American C-53 Skytrooper plane smashed into the side of a mountain.
That C-53 Skytrooper – a variant of the Douglas DC-3 civilian aircraft – was a U.S. military passenger plane, and four crew members and eight passengers were aboard the craft that November night when it took off from the German city of Munich. The destination of the flight was meant to be Marseille in the south of France.
But the Skytrooper had flown into a storm as it crossed the Bernese Alps and had ultimately come to grief in the unforgiving mountains. Poor weather conditions had forced the pilot to divert from his planned course; indeed, the temperature on the Gauli Glacier that night was a bone-chilling 5 °F.