Canadians missing in Antarctic well-equipped to survive if plane landed: Dr. Ross

Bad weather is currently keeping rescue crews on the ground as they hope for a clearing to search for three missing Canadians in Antarctica.

An emergency beacon was activated around 10 p.m. Tuesday, giving rescuers a good idea of where the three are, but because the beacon battery only lasts for 24 hours, it has likely gone flat.

Dr. Heather Ross, who just returned from an expedition to the South Pole and wrote for Yahoo! Canada News during her adventure said as long as the plane was able to land safely, the crew should have everything they need to survive for a short while.

"Each plane is equipped with survival gear," she said to Yahoo! Canada News. "They have gear on board the plane to stay warm and eat."

The main challenge for the crew, presuming they are in good health will be finding shelter. Hopefully they are able to use the plane, but if not they will likely be building an igloo.

It's believed that there were just the three crew members on the plane and no passengers heading from the South Pole to an Italian station. Ross said as a passenger she was briefed on safety procedures in case the plane had to make an emergency landing.

Ross flew with Kenn Borek Air, the same company that was operating this flight that went down. It's a Calgary-based airline that operates extensively in the Arctic and Antarctic and ferries people around the bottom of the Earth almost on a daily basis.

"The pilots are gifted Canadian bush pilots," Ross said.

[ Related: Bad weather hampers search ]

Kenn Borek began operating in Antarctica in 1985 and was involved with the first ever rescue from the South Pole during the winter of 2001. They were also used by the BBC film crew for Frozen Planet. The airline has had about half a dozen accidents, but this is the first major one in Antarctica.

That's pretty impressive given the harsh conditions they fly in many days.

Ross said on the continent some days the only reason she knew her feet were on the ground was because of gravity. It's what she calls pea soup days where you can't tell the ground from the sky. So you can imagine how hard it would be to fly in those conditions. And the winds whip up out of nowhere, so if the plane had to make an emergency landing it would be particularly difficult if there were crosswinds that reach gale force.

Ross said her main fear is the plane crash landed. She's worried because the crew should have a satellite phone, but people haven't heard from them yet.

Early rescue efforts were thwarted by weather, which included solid cloud, heavy snow and winds up to 170 km/h.

"It's an incredibly hostile environment...(with) no margin for error," Ross said. "My prayers are with them."

(Yahoo! Canada News photo of Dr. Heather Ross all bundled up in the Antarctic about two weeks ago)

Read more about Dr. Heather Ross' Journey to the Bottom of the Earth exclusively on Yahoo! Canada News.