Australia has successfully completed the first midwinter supply airdrop to Casey research station in Antarctica.
Until now, access to Australia’s Antarctic stations has been limited to the summer months between October and March.
A RAAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft dropped 1500 kilograms of cargo for the Australian Antarctic Division onto the Casey plateau on Saturday, bringing medical supplies, mail and mechanical equipment to the wintering crew.
“During winter Antarctica is cloaked in darkness and experiences extreme temperatures, which means we can’t reach our stations by sea or air,” says Matt Filipowski, the Australian Antarctic Division’s future concepts manager.
“But with the new capabilities of the RAAF C-17A we can now drop essential supplies and equipment year round.”
Three padded containers were dropped by parachute from the back of the plane and retrieved by Casey station.
“This is a really significant development, improving the logistical support we can provide to all our stations, Casey, Mawson and Davis, over the long winter period,” says Filipowski.
Flight Lieutenant Doug Susans, a C-17A pilot, says the aircraft routinely does airdrops across the globe but this is the first time in winter in a polar region.
“There were a number of challenging environmental conditions including freezing temperatures, darkness and a featureless environment,” says Susans.
The Globemaster took off from Australia early Saturday morning for the 10 hour, nearly 8000km round trip to Antarctica.
Here’s footage of the airdrop:
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