It is almost the end of the year 2021 CE, so you would think humankind as a whole would have conquered the world by now. Even with today’s high-tech transportation choices, certain sites remain unexplored – and it is no surprise a few of them discovered in the bleak, alien continent of Antarctica, an Airbus 340 has now landed in Antarctica for the first time in history. According to Hi Fly, the boutique aviation company that made the flight, this type of plane, which first flew more than three decades ago, was “carefully chosen to perform well in this extreme environment” – and after this successful landing, the company says they hope to open the journey up to tourists in the near future.
“This was not just another trip,” said Captain Carlos Mirpuri, vice president of Hi Fly and the plane’s pilot. “There are specifics linked to this really distant operation we’d be undertaking, the harsh climate we’d be operating in, and the need to guarantee suitable protection apparel is on board.” On November 2, the plane took off from Cape Town and landed at Antarctica 2500 nautical miles distant in slightly over five hours. Wolf’s Fang, an expensive adventure resort for tourists who wish to experience unnatural degrees of cold during their holiday time, commissioned the trip to carry supplies.
As you can anticipate, the flight was not without its difficulties. Mirpuri reported in his diary that the “runway” was a 3000-meter expanse of blue glacial ice, and that “the reflection is spectacular… Proper eyewear aids in the adjustment of your eyes between the outside world and the instruments.” “It’s not easy to detect the runway,” he said, “but we have to see it at some point, since there are no navigation aids on [Wolf’s Fang Runway, where they landed]… We must be able to see each other from a distance of roughly 20 miles.”
Wolf’s Fang Runway is not really an airport; it is a C level airport, which implies that only expert crews permitted to fly there. Only “grooving… cut down the runway by special equipment” allowed the jet to stop on the ice, according to Mirpuri.
The crew had to deal with the plane’s navigational equipment, such as altimeters, affected by the intense cold, and even visual height estimations were problematic due to Antarctica’s consistently white and snowy surface.
Despite this, Mirpuri stated in the Captain’s log that the trip was a success, describing it as “a perfect approach to an uneventful landing.” He praised the operation’s “real winning team” and stated, “All targets for this maiden flight had been reached.”
While the first flight to Antarctica occurred in a Lockheed Vega 1 monoplane piloted by Australian military pilot and explorer George Hubert Wilkins in 1928, a wide-body plane like the Airbus 340 did not make it to the continent until 2019. Nonetheless, as tourism to the Great White South grows — for better or worse – this month’s historic trip establishes a crucial precedent for organizations like White Fang trying to attract more extremophile customers. “I could hear a round of applause from the cabin when we reached taxi speed,” Mirpuri wrote. “We were overjoyed. We were, after all, crafting history.”