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December 9, 2007 at 9:47 pm #753SciencetechKeymaster
It may not be a big deal elsewhere in the world, but we recently had a jet fly over us. South Pole Station almost never sees this sort of thing, and it was even more mysterious because they didn’t even bother to say hello.
Nobody is quite sure who it was. I would need a “Jane’s” atlas to identify the jet, but the best guess so far it that it is a newer Airbus. The pictures below are enhanced versions of an image I stole off the common drive here. The fly-over occurred at around 9:30pm NZDT on Saturday, December 8th (approx 0830UTC 08 Dec). I’ve googled for the event but haven’t found anything. Got ideas?
December 10, 2007 at 12:49 am #7766
If this aircraft was not in contact with the Air Traffic Control folks at McMudo he is in big time trouble. BK should ask and if they don’t know anything about it a formal report needs to be sent. I would be very surprised if McM didn’t know about it and I would have thought they would have advised Pole.
Been ThereDecember 11, 2007 at 4:54 am #7767
I must agree with BT. But I think McM knew something, the folks in comms should have known too. Seems that an Airbus A319 did a proof-of-concept landing at McM on 6 December as part of Australia inaugurating their new air service. Check with PP Tim H, he posted this picture last week: http://thefrozendesert.blogspot.com/2007/12/frog-on-pond.html.
After googling THAT event unsuccessfully, I asked Tim if he knew anything more about it and he said no, that basically that it was not unlike Airbus to keep these things quiet. There is coverage of the new air service on the AAD web site http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=33377 but no mention of this trip.
There’s a news article in the 11 December Hobart paper that says the Airbus left Hobart on Sunday for its first trip TO the blue ice runway 70km from Casey. Earlier in the week (presumably on the flight to McM) the A319 flew over Casey according to other snippets on the AAD site.December 11, 2007 at 2:23 pm #7765
The flight of the Australian A319 to McMurdo has been in the works for a while. It was scheduled to happen last season but the aircraft delivery from France to Australia was delayed. The aircraft is part of the Australian antarctic programs effort to utilize airlift in their program. They also have a couple CASA 212 aircraft, similar to a Twin Otter.
The A319 Airbus is twin engine, unlike the aircraft doing the fly over at Pole.
BTDecember 11, 2007 at 5:37 pm #7762SciencetechKeymaster
B.K. said that McMurdo ATC said that they thought it was a Qantas Airbus. There seemed to be some lingering doubt but I’ll take that as an answer.
Still seems a bit rude to fly over and not say hi…
:->December 11, 2007 at 8:00 pm #7763
Guess they couldn’t see a nice all days MOON from that alltitude anyway.
BT 😀December 12, 2007 at 3:29 am #7764
Oops, well I guess I don’t know that much about aviation, I COULD have counted the engines 😕
Gee, if it WAS Qantas, I’d think given all the money they make off the program they could have at least said hello. I’m thinking it may have been some rich person’s private jet, maybe an oil sheik. After all wouldn’t an airline like Qantas have to file a flight plan, have an environmental statement on file, have insurance etc.?? After all, what would happen if this guy would have run in to low viz and bumped into, say, Mt. Vinson?
I’ve got some more sources to consult.December 13, 2007 at 3:05 am #7758
>> I’ve got some more sources to consult.
And I did. The first was a message board which included some ex-VXE-6 aviators, some still flying. From several of them I heard 707, KC-135, 747-400 and A380. There’s a wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A380 which shows a prototype A380 in colors which include a dark blue band near the tail, similar to what was seen over Pole.
Personally I’m thinking it may have been an A380, given all of the flying around that Airbus is doing nowadays, and their penchant for secrecy.
I also asked a couple of other friends who visited Pole a few years ago–Tina and Thom Sjogren since they are kind of in the know on NGA events on the ice. Surprisingly, they actually posed the question to their readers:
Stay tuned…December 13, 2007 at 8:45 am #7759Sun DogMember
The plane in the photos looks like the A380 that went from LAX on 11/30/07 to Sydney on 12/01/07 The blue paint stripe on the back end looks the same????? Hard to tell from such a distance?
The news recently said that the Quatas crews were checking the A380 out during the first week of December 2007. http://www.e-composites.com/frontend/newspage.aspx?sno=4241 Maybe it flew back to France via South America?
They flew by last year, did they say hello?
From Airbus corporate website.
Airbus flew over the South Pole last year in a test flight. That leg of the test flight was from S. Africa to Sydney.
A major highlight of the exercise was the Johannesburg – Sydney trip over the South Pole, where the A380 demonstrated its capability to fly ultra long-range routes at maximum payload. The A380 departed Johannesburg, South Africa, its maximum take-off weight of 555 tonnes / 1,223,565 lbs and was the heaviest aircraft ever to take off from O.R. Tambo International Airport, located at 1,680 metres (5,323 feet) above sea level. This trial demonstrated the A380s excellent performance at high altitude airports. The aircraft landed at Sydney airport after a flight of around 16 hours covering a distance of 7,296 nm / 13,512km, circling the South Pole on the way.
Maybe PR at Airbus could tell you if it was them (again) flying by without saying hello?December 14, 2007 at 4:48 am #7760
Last year’s A380 overflight passed over Pole overnight on 27-28 November 2006, landing at SYD at 0830 local (1030 Pole time) on the 28th. I don’t recall hearing if anyone at Pole saw or heard it circle the station…December 18, 2007 at 4:20 am #7761
Okay, we have the answer. It WAS the A380, transiting from Sydney to BA. Here’s thepoles.com story http://www.thepoles.com/news.php?id=16842 and the Airbus press release http://www.airbus.com/en/myairbus/headlinenews/index.jsp.
I’m reminded of December 1972, when my pass through ChCh on the way to the ice coincided with the first 747 landing, a major event at the airport.
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