I do no longer dream about, I fly in the Antarctica, almost

The next guest article by Walter, one of our biggest supporters:

Hello and welcome on board for the last leg of our round trip.

The hospitality of the Argentines has no limits. That is the reason, why it is almost nine o’clock in the evening and the sun is already sinking, as we can start to our return flight. Some clouds have gathered.

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The Co-Pilot and I have decided no longer take stopovers on Matienzo and Esperanza, two other argentine Research Stations up here. Instead, we will fly a direct route to Rothera.

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At nine o’clock Marambio-Tower and the Argentines, let us finally make our way home. So up we are and heading always to the deep standing sun.

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The orange arrow is our new goal. I am promising here, that I will introduce the other two argentine Research Stations, Matienzo and Esperanza, on a further flight.

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While we are cruising against the sun, on our left, through the clouds, appears the Larsen Ice Shelf Field C, one of the formerly four Larsen Ice-Shelf Fields on the east coast. In the 1990’s Larsen A, and in the beginning of the new millennium, Larsen B began melting and finally breaking away.

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I think that I must not explain the reasons why. At the end of the last millennium, there had been all around the ice of Larsen B behind the airplane. Alone this Ice Shelf Field has had a dimension bigger than the state of Rhode Island. On this old map of the Antarctic, revised in 1985, the ice is still enclosed. In the left upper quarter you will find the Antarctic Peninsula.

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The clouds disappear while we are overflying again the Avery Plateau from east to west…

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…so behind, there already appear the summits of the Arrowsmith Peninsula.

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That means we should descent because Rothera is no longer far. Down there it is already.

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Curve to a Fly by

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…in front of Rothera and its surroundings, dipped in a charming light by the midnight sun.

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Turn in to Runway 18,…

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…we are almost home.

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Touch down at 10:50 pm on Runway 18, with – so I hope – a couple of passengers on board, who had a little bit of pleasure on our journey.

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“Please, don’t forget your gloves and your woollies, it’s cold outside. Thank you for flying with me. I hope, you enjoyed the flight and I wish you a good night.”

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See you on next flight.

Cheers, Walter

The continuation of a childhood dream

Another guest article by Walter, one of our biggest supporters:

Hello and welcome back, Everybody. It seams, that some of you enjoyed the first part of my travelouge, why you are reading this, that you have decided to follow the second part too. That pleases me very much, thanks for that.

At the end of the first leg of our trip around the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula, called Graham Land, we were heading to the first stopover on Marambio Base, the largest argentine Research Station. For this purpose, we cross the Antarctic Peninsula from west to east over the ice-covered Avery Plateau, about 6’600 feet high and 40 miles long.

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On height of the Exasperation Inlet, we are reaching the east coast. The Inlet got this name because of serious difficulties in traversing this place during mapping works in 1947.

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Not far away is located Matienzo Base, another argentine Research Station, on a small Island which was surrounded by the Larsen Shelf Ice Field A until the late 1980’s. We will have a short stopover there on our return flight.

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About 30 nm before Marambio, during the descent, we are passing James Ross Island, located off the shore of Trinity Peninsula, the northernmost part of the Antarctic Peninsula.

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On this Island was the first documented detection of dinosaur’s fossils in the Antarctica.

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We are already on the approach to Marambio Base. Here, in the year 1969, was built the first landing track in the Antarctica. Marambio Base is also called “Antarctica’s Entrance Door”.

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Touch down on Runway 06…

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…and breaking.

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We are taxiing off the runway…

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…passing the tower…

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…and arriving the parking site.

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Meanwhile, it is almost noon. The argentine employees have their day off, because it is Sunday today, so they invited us for lunch.

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After an absolute delicious and very copious meal, the Argentines have invited us to visit their Research Station.

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Good idea! A little digestive walk in the surroundings is exactly the right thing before journey on.

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As you see, there are many ways to go in the nearer or farer neighborhood.

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After the sightseeing tour through Marambio, it would be, actually, time to move on. No chance! The Argentines have invited us to stay also for supper. Because we do not want to be impolite, we have accepted, and because some of us are already hungry again.

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For that reason our onward flight will be delayed and I can only report in the third part about it. Until then, we have time to digest the supper, which was no lesser extensively than lunch.

So I hope that you will again be with aboard then.

Cheers, Walter

How X-Plane can fulfil childhood dreams, almost

A guest article by Walter, one of our biggest supporters:

Since about four years, I am a supporter of the X-Plane Flight Simulator and since my childhood, I am an Aviation-Enthusiast and an even bigger fan of the Antarctica. Unfortunately, Antarctica in X-Plane was something like ‘the lost continent’, because it simply did not exist. Ok, the area of the North Pole does also not. But up there is almost nothing else then water, not exceptional fascinating to fly, maybe for sailing. I have never missed the Arctic in X-Plane but I have always missed hard the Antarctic.

You can imagine, I felt like a little child on Christmas day (in fact, it was during the last year Christmas days) when I received the present and the opportunity to fly in the Antarctic in my Flight Simulator. After my first test flights, I was so excited by the Mesh and the first scenery additions for Antarctica, I started (after sending a first donation to Maps2XPlane) a new thread called ‘Antarctica: Flying the White Desert’ in the German Aerosoft Forum. There I began to post some screenshots with short descriptions of my flights around this area and some fictional adventure flyer stories. Apparently, the guys of Maps2XPlane liked my travelogue, because Matthias, one of the three explorers of the Antarctica for X-Plane, kindly invited me to write an English language guest article for this website. After initial hesitation, I decided to do it. In spite of the facts that English is not my mother tongue nor am I a real pilot or a polar-scientist, and the most important circumstance, that my free time is very limited. I am just an Antarctica- and Flying-Enthusiast with a Flight Simulator. However, I am of the opinion that the project Antarctica4XPlane deserves any possible support. And Matthias, Paolo and Nino from Maps2XPlane, earn my highest appreciation for their work. Thank you, guys. This is my contribution. Moreover, I apologize for my not always accurate English.

In my first article here, I would like to invite you on a journey around the north of the Antarctic Peninsula and show you some visual impressions of the enchanting beauty of this remote and largely untamed continent, very well realised in X-Plane. I do not want to create a common review, in which I write what I like and what I do not. This is finally a matter of personal taste. I also do not want to write about things, which one could have made maybe better. I would not be able to do it better, so how I have the right to criticize. Antarctica in X-Plane is absolute new and a gift for me. So why should I criticize something that I have wished for almost four years. I just want to enjoy and demonstrate how much fun it could be to fly there. And I hope I can infect some of you with my fascination. In a few commented pictures, I present you some ‘points of interest’ down here and introduce you the first additional sceneries, built by the team of Maps2XPlane. Because of the dimensions of the Antarctic Peninsula and because of so many well worth seeing places here, this article will be appear in three separate parts.

Let me first say a few words about the X-Plane 10 rendering settings for this area. Due to the absence of auto-generated objects like trees, buildings or roads in the Antarctica you have the opportunity to turn up your rendering settings very much higher than you are used to it in other areas of X-Plane, without collapsing frame rate. Especially when you turn the ‘Texture Resolutions’ to extreme you can see how detailed and accurate some airplanes and custom liveries are done. Furthermore, a very important fact, you will get a sharper texture resolution on the Antarctica-Mesh and the scenery objects too. Try it out.

So now, let us finally take off: It is eight o’clock in the morning on the British Rothera Research Station on Adelaide Island, off the shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. The weather forecast promises a beautiful day for flying and the airplane for our today’s journey is already standing in front of the hangar, ready for boarding. So please take a seat and fasten your seatbelts.

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The DHC-6 Twin-Otter, operated by the British Antarctic Survey, is the perfect aircraft for some sightseeing in the ice. So, enjoy the flight!

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Against the wind, we are standing on the start position from Runway 18.

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The Tower gives us clearance to go.

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After a few meters of acceleration, the Twin-Otter is taking off and rapidly gaining altitude.

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We turn to the right for some kind of a traffic pattern over Rothera.

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From up here you have a first good view over the Rothera Station and a part of Adelaide Island. In the ice fields below the plane are two ski ways, supplying two small weather- and research stations. It already exist two third party freeware sceneries, built by Heinz Flichtbeil from Aerosoft.

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While we turn our cosy round, we can see some summits on southern end of Adelaide Island. In the middle, Mount Liotard and on the right, Mount Gaudry. Off the shore are the Léonie Islands.

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Now we are heading west to the Boyle Mountains, a mountainous massif, only about 35 nm away from Rothera on the Arrowsmith Peninsula.

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A last look at Rothera Station through the cabin window…

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…then we leave Adelaide Island behind us.

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Already we reach the Boyle Mountains between the heads of Lallemand Fjord and Bourgeois Fjord. For these high plateaus, there is a pretty cool expedition-scenery available, with one harbour- and two landing-strip-sceneries, again from Heinz Flichtbeil by Aerosoft.

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Nearby looms Bartholin Peak over the shore of Lallemand Fjord.

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Here we change our course to Nord East and follow the western coast of Graham Land, the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula.

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Our altitude is 9’500 feet. The outside temperature is minus 26 degrees Celsius. Very Summery.

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We are overflying Mount Peary, a conspicuous massif on Kiev Peninsula, on the shore of Graham Land.

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From here, we take a direct course to our first stopover destination. About 350 nm from Rothera, on Seymour Island off the northeast coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, lays Marambio Base, the largest argentine Antarctic Research Station.

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But about this Station and the remainder of our trip, I will narrate you in part two of my article. For now, I say thank you for your kind attention and I hope you will follow my travel reports in the future. So, stay tuned here.

Cheers, Walter

Operation Deep Freeze IV

A guest article by Vincent,  whose father took part in the Operation Deep Freeze back in 1958-59 when he was 5 years old:

Operation Deep Freeze was a US Navy operation to build and support McMurdo Sound. My dad (a Seabee) was a member of the 1958-59 Deep Freeze IV team. He is right now one of only a few still living from that support group, maybe even the last.

While he was there we were able to talk to him via HAM radio once a month and for my mom and I that was a very big event. We sometimes could not hear to well with all the things that went into a call such as this. The phone operator would give us instructions on radio communications and we spoke through the phone as such, eg. roger, over.

While stationed there, Edmond Hillary was preparing to make his Trans-Antarctic crossing using motorized sled/tractor, we do have photos of his equipment.

The Navy flew personnel from Christchurch New Zealand on a Navy Constellation, C-121 and C-124 Globemaster. The US Navy as well as the Coast Guard had support ships there. Many photos of the ships and planes, some w/ a humorous twist.

I have many articles of clothing he wore, socks, fur hood, bunny boots, outer pants, heavy mittens, goggles as well as medals, awards, briefing papers, and many 35mm slides. I have at times debated whether to contact the Antarctic museum in Christchurch to see whether or not they would be interested in obtaining copies of his photos. I have given many presentations to school kids over the years to speak to them of the history and hardships of living in the Antarctic. When asked about it, my dad would say, nice place to visit but would never live there. The coldest temperature he saw was -98 °F (-72 °C), and that at McMurdo. Unlike today, they still used dogs and had many there.

As far as I am aware, only one person lost their life while he was there. He was driving a tractor hauling a sled from one of the transport ships when it broke through the ice taking him with it into the sea.

For me Antarctica has always been something of very high interest, and loved it when I could have my dad come to school and share his experiences, after all, how many kids could say their dad has been to Antarctica and lived there a whole year. I was a Navy brat until I was 12 years old and loved every minute. The following year I was off to Okinawa in a Super Connie and that was a real adventure.

My dad with Hillary Sno-Cat:

1958: Sir Edmund Hillary reaches the South Pole using Ferguson tractors and with only 91 litres of fuel remaining is the first overland journey to the pole since Scott, and Hillary has set up depots for Vivian Fuchs, leader of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition who is approaching from the Weddell Sea. Fuchs reaches the pole two weeks after Hillary, and continues to the Ross Sea to complete the first crossing of the continent.

I could not find much historical info on some aircraft pictured due to the lack of pictured serial numbers, eg. DH Beaver at this time. I was told the DH Beaver being loaded onto ship was headed for the Smithsonian Institute Washington D.C. This could be the aircraft which suffered major structural damage to frame and hence being sent back as museum piece. But this is only a guess as I have been unable to find any special flight information on this type of aircraft such as first to fly to geographic South Pole etc.

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I found this picture on the internet a number of years ago and made a nice 8×10 for me. I thought this shows just what dangers lie just beneath your feet.

My dad in photo 083 in front of transport ship and him in the mask photo 126, which by the way I never liked that picture, looks like a bad Halloween costume. lol.

The ship w/ fuel lines extending to ice breaker is an oil tanker and was used as a storage ship for fuel. It and another next to it just sat there, a storage fuel depot.

Photo 018, not sure if the man here is dropping an explosive charge or a hydrometer but in any event he is out there where no man should venture. It was not uncommon to lay charges to blow holes into the ice to breakup flows or take samples.

My dad so you will know what he looked like then, he was 29 when he left for the ice and had been in the US Navy 11 years. His next assignment was as head of the moter pool NAS Naha Okinawa. As a military brat one probably does not have too many memories of their father as deployment even while deployed could send them to other countries. Long hours of work and few days off to enjoy. My years in Okinawa are filled with stories and some are hard to believe. Maybe, I will tell you a few sometime. It was a very different time in the world and to large extent a time I wish I could live over and over. The military for our family was a wonderful experience and when I was introduced to civilian life it was one which came as a shock. For many, it is very hard to adjust to and that was so with me. The culture is so different at least then.

Looking back on these photos brings many memories of not just Antarctica, but life in general during those years long ago. I often tell those who are younger, it was a time which saw many changes, and you younger folks have no idea how much life has changed. I can only wonder what lies ahead

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«Nino,

This concludes my photo contribution, I hope you enjoyed the ice and that you will retain many if not all of the photographs for your collection. Should I find more in the hundreds of slides from my dad I will send you copies. I know there were a few more, but I have not seen them since bringing them home from college back in the 70’s. I have a degree in geography and gave a few presentations to classes in the department. It is possible my dad misplaced them in some other group of pictures those of which I am still going through as time permits.

It is always a pleasure to converse with someone who has an interest in polar exploration north or south and can identify with the beauty and dangers it holds.

If you need further information on the photos plz advise and I will do what I can. It is easier to to comment on a few rather then all. As stated my dad is getting up there and I might be able to get some information out of him if he sees a particular picture. The only problem, he is 8 hours away by car and my brother who lives nearby him knows nothing about this stuff. I hope to see him this summer, and maybe get info from him.

Keep in touch, and I will sure enjoy flying around Antarctica as you and the team contribute more of this fascinating region.

Sincerely Always,
Vincent Birkett»

Editor’s note: You will find below the links to the original photos and to the related comments. The photos can be viewed in detail and downloaded for a personal consultation. Any other use must have a specific authorization by the author Vincent Birkett via a personal message to Polar1955 in the forum of x-plane.org.

Proposal of «Atlas of Remote Islands»

A guest article by Nino, initiator of the Antarctica4XPlane project:

AtlasI would like to suggest the «Atlas of Remote Islands» (with the subtitle: 50 islands where I have never been and I never will go) by Judith Schalansky, because it’s a beautiful book, and it is always useful to keep using more tools and enrich knowledge in mapping and geography with the stories and events that affect them.

These are for example the brief notes regarding Deception, volcanic Island of the South Shetland where «we started» six months ago with the Antarctic project, which is now going to be presented in the light of the sun:

Senza titolo«It’s easy to miss the entrance, the entrance into the caldera is not even two hundred meters wide. Here, between the bellows of Neptune, at the gates of hell, in the jaws of the dragon, the storm rages continuously. But behind, hidden beneath the slumbering volcano, is the safest harbor in the world: the bay whalers. The locals call this place New Sandefjord. It is the station for the processing of the whales to the south of the world, a platform for whaling with its own fleet: two three trees, eight whaling small and two large steam. Apart from a couple of Chileans stokers, here live two hundred Norwegians and a woman: Marie Betsy Rasmussen, the first and only female creature coming so far in Antarctica, captain’s wife Adolf Amandus Andresen, administrator of one of the three companies for two years practicing here whaling. The season runs from late November until the last days of February. The whalers hunt with the new methods that have been tested to the north. From cannons located on the forecastle shoot harpoons equipped with explosive charges that stick to the backs of large animals that can distinguish all of them from afar. The humpback whale ejects a jet of water low and has a hump on the back. The fin whale is known by its vertical jet. The dorsal fins and blow up instead reveal the most precious among them: blue whales. A steamer is able to capture up to six animals at night tows in the bay. On the black beach, the whalers tear baleen mouths, skinned skin shiny, divide the fat from the meat and boil the white gold in huge vats until it becomes oil. The pots are fed with coal, but with dead penguins that capture at Baily Head. The hunters leave the rest fails. Black sand, on the beach, emerge the white picket fences of whale skeletons, the water is red with blood and the air full of the stench of rotting flesh. Thousands of bodies rotting in the crater flooded looted.»

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At the few images of the book I have also added a satellite photo in which appear the barracks and the whale’s oil containers, some no longer in use, of the Argentina Base and the Spanish one, so maybe some «good soul» might think in the future to enrich the island with some realistic notes in a scenery.

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X-Plane as a tool of geographic analysis

A guest article by Nino, initiator of the Antarctica4XPlane project:

I have thirty atlases, hundreds of maps, dozens of travel books and some engraves of bird’s-eye views cities , from 1600 to today: the geography and travel have always interested me, although, unfortunately, I did other things for a living and, in fact, I have not traveled much then. Instead I traveled a lot in books and on the maps but the last tool that I use frequently for several years, not in substitution but in addition to paper ones, X-Plane, causes me of wonderful sensations, never felt so far.

I have the whole world (or almost, but Matthias and Paolo are taking action about) in the current 220 Giga of X-Plane in the 500 giga SSD of my MacBook Air, which, among other things, is much smaller then the Atlas of Encyclopedia Britannica or of the Treccani one. By now, even though as a pilot of aircraft I am absolutely poor, I got to know some of the many features and the quality of the orography of version 10 and I can see, study and admire, almost any spot on the globe: that’s why the interest is not directed only to the places where airports are located; if it serves to facilitate the recognition, I create fictional helipads where I want, what I’ve done everywhere, far and wide throughout the world in recent years, … but only until the cursed 60° S: then I met on a post Matthias and then Paolo … and life has changed.

Messina

Matthaus Merian (the Older) – Messina (about 1680)

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Austin Mayer (the Uncle) – Messina (2015)

Messina is where I was born many years ago.