Published on : Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Airbus A340 plane has landed on Antarctica. Hi Fly, a boutique aviation company, was behind the flight. The company specializes in wet leases, which means they hire out both aircraft and aircrew and are responsible for handling insurance, maintenance and other logistics.
Hi Fly 801 took off from Cape Town, South Africa on Tuesday, November 2.
The plane was commissioned by Wolf’s Fang, a new upscale adventure camp on the world’s southernmost continent, and brought much-needed supplies to the resort. Wolf’s Fang is a new project from high-end Antarctica tourism company White Desert. The crew of Hi Fly 801 (and its return trip to Cape Town, Hi Fly 802) was led by Captain Carlos Mirpuri, who is also Hi Fly’s vice president.
Each flight took between five and five and a half hours, and the team spent less than three hours on the ground in Antarctica, covering 2,500 nautical miles.
The blue-ice runway at the Wolf’s Fang property is designated a C Level airport, despite not technically being an airport. That means that only highly specialized crew can fly there due to challenging conditions.
Grooving is carved along the runway by special equipment, and after cleaning and carving we get an adequate braking coefficient; the runway being 3,000 meters long, landing and stopping an A340 that heavy on that airfield wouldn’t be a problem.
Although the blue ice is gorgeous, it can also be concerning for pilots because of its glare.
Mipuri added that the reflection is tremendous, and proper eyewear helps you adjust your eyes between the outside view and the instrumentation. The non-flying pilot has an important role in making the usual plus extra callouts, especially in the late stages of the approach.
The first recorded flight to Antarctica was a Lockheed Vega 1 monoplane in 1928, piloted by George Hubert Wilkins, an Australian military pilot and explorer. He took off from Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands. The project was funded by William Randolph Hearst, the wealthy American publishing tycoon.
Short exploratory flights like these were how scientists and mapmakers got vital information about Antarctica’s topography.
To this day, there is no airport on the White Continent, but there are 50 landing strips and runways. Australia and South Africa are just two of the global powers with interests in Antarctica.