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First summer flights to Antarctica take off

Published: 1:02PM Monday October 01, 2012 Source: ONE News

The first flight of the summer season to Antarctica has set off from Christchurch this morning.

Around 130 people and 25,000 kilos of cargo have been transported to the icy wilderness today as scientists prepare to make the most of the brighter weather over the next few months.

"Everybody is excited about the first mission because we wanted it to go on time and on schedule and luckily for us the weather is co-operating it's a beautiful day down there," Lieutenant Colonel Brent Kennon of the US Air Force said.

"The weather changes all the time, it's the most remote and inhospitable location on the globe with crazy weather conditions that can change at a moment notice."

Only the most experienced and capable pilots are picked to make the five hour flight and Kennon said even then it is a challenging location.

"Most pilots are used to landing on a nice big paved runway surface with grass under the sides with lots of lights and markings," he said. "Well, we land on an ice runway that's built right on the sea ice and the ice shelf and it's white on white."

The planes will only spend an hour on the ice before making the return flight to Christchurch.

The US Airforce is set to fly in hundreds of people over the season who will live and work on Antarctica.

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