First Antarctic-bound flight to take off

  • 28/09/2015
First Antarctic-bound flight to take off

The first flight of the summer season to Antarctica is due to take off.

A US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III is scheduled to leave Christchurch today at 9am, weather-permitting.

It will have 85 people on board and cargo, including much-missed fruit and vegetables for those who wintered over on the ice.

There was a civic function in Christchurch on Friday night to launch the summer season, which will be the last for Antarctica NZ chairman Rob Fenwick.

There will be three flights a week for the first two months.

The staff heading down today are Americans and New Zealanders and the first flight will also take some scientific equipment.

The New Zealand programme has two "particularly exciting" projects this season, one on the Ross Ice Shelf and the other setting up a long-term ecological research project at Cape Adare, a spokeswoman says.

Christchurch is one of five gateway cities to Antarctica in the world.

In 2014 the Korea Polar Research Institute opened their New Zealand-based office at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, where the New Zealand, United States and Italian Antarctic programmes are currently based.