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Air Force Hercules Begin Flights to Antarctica

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release
11 November 2005

Air Force Hercules Begin Flights to Antarctica

An Air Force C130 Hercules is scheduled to depart for the Antarctic on the 14 November 2005 at 10am from Christchurch International Airport. This is the first Air Force flight for the 2005/06 Antarctic summer.

The Air Force will provide up to 12 return flights between Christchurch and McMurdo Station carrying passengers and cargo in support of Antarctica New Zealand activities.

Detachment Commander, Squadron Leader Nathan McDonald says flying to Antarctica is incredibly challenging.

“The extreme weather makes the flight incredibly tricky. We have to constantly monitor the changeable conditions,” said Squadron Leader McDonald.

“But it’s worth it; the scenery is spectacular as the continent appears on the horizon,” he said.

The planned completion date for the twelve Air Force flights is 16 December 05.

ENDS

Backgrounder
ANTARCTICA. In July 1996 "Antarctica New Zealand" assumed responsibility for managing New Zealand's Antarctic activities. Since then the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has provided air transport, logistics and personnel support to official New Zealand activities during the Antarctic summer season. This year the NZDF are providing support to both Antarctica NZ and to the United States Antarctica Programme.

The mission operates from August – February annually and involves teams of personnel supporting Antarctic New Zealand and the US Antarctic Programmed activities in NZ and on the Antarctic continent. 24 personnel (incl. the McMurdo Terminal Team and Scott Base support staff) deploy to Antarctica for approx 5 months from Oct-Feb (austral Summer Season) annually. Some 30 personnel also augment the permanent staff at the Christchurch Air Movements Terminal and Cargo Yard for the season. Short-term attachments to the Antarctic throughout the season include Ship Off-Load Team, Op White Safari personnel; NZDF visitors, and aircrew. The annual total of personnel supporting Op Antarctica is approximately 82 NZDF personnel.

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