Antarctic 2011: First Flights Into McMurdo Station

In one of the sure signs that the impending Austral Summer is not far off, and the looming Antarctic Season with it, McMurdo Station had its first seasonal flight arrive yesterday. According to The Antarctic Sun, the first plane safely landed at the research facility after being delayed a day by an early summer blizzard. It is the first of 63 scheduled flights to McMurdo, which is located at Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island.

The station consists of 85 buildings and includes a runway, helicopter pad, and harbor. That harbor will be opened soon by a Russian icebreaker, which will allow more supplies and personnel to arrive on location, some of which will continue on to the South Pole itself. The U.S. has more than 100 research projects planned for the 2011-2012 season, so it’ll be a very busy year at the bottom of the world for all of the scientists and researchers in the Antarctic.

Meanwhile, Aussie adventurers Justin Jones and James Castrission, who I told you about here, have left Sydney and are preparing for their epic Antarctic expedition. The pair plan to travel on foot to the South Pole, starting at the Union Glacier Camp, and then back again – a journey that has not been accomplished before. They are now in Punta Arenas, Chile where they’ll complete their last minute prep work and secure their gear, before officially starting out on October 16th.

Updated: A slight correction on this article. I received a not over the weekend from James Castrission who corrected me on the route he and Justin will be taking to and from the South Pole. They’re not leaving from Union Glacier, but will instead set out from Hercules Inlet. Either way, it’s going to be an epic adventure to say the least!

Expect to hear more about them in the weeks ahead.