Aviation company Hi Fly has made history by landing the first Airbus A340 in Antarctica.
Leaving the tarmac at Cape Town International Airport, South Africa, the flight covered approximately 2,500 nautical miles over the course of five hours, carrying a maximum landing weight of 190 tons (included enough fuel for the return trip). Once Hi Fly 801 arrived, Captain Carlos Mipuri – who also happens to be Vice President of Hi Fly – and the crew spent less than three hours on the ground.
The plane itself was commissioned by Wolf’s Fang which, according to CNN, is a brand new upscale adventure camp on the world’s southernmost continent, brought to you by the folks at White Desert. Bringing a whole heap of “much-needed supplies”, the landing was possible thanks to the resort’s blue-ice runway. Fun fact: this very runway is designated a C-level airport despite not technically being an airport – hence the necessity for highly-specialised crews.
“The cooler it is the better,” Carlos Mipuri explains in his captain’s log.
“Grooving is carved along the runway by special equipment, and after cleaning and carving we get an adequate braking coefficient; the runway being 3,000 meters long, landing and stopping an A340 that heavy on that airfield wouldn’t be a problem.”
“The reflection is tremendous and proper eyewear helps you adjust your eyes between the outside view and the instrumentation. The non-flying pilot has an important role in making the usual plus extra callouts, especially in the late stages of the approach.”
While Hi Fly can be credited with landing the first Airbus A340 here, the first-ever recorded flight to Antarctica was accomplished by Australian military pilot and explorer, George Hubert Wilkins, who touched down in a Lockheed Vega 1 monoplane circa 1928. The entire project was funded by American publishing tycoon, William Randolph Hearst.
Hi Fly has since revealed its Airbus A340 will be used to fly “a small number of tourists, alongside scientists, and essential cargo to the White Continent” this season.