• RonTom Adventures - Antarctica

    RonTom Adventures - Antarctica

    By Ron B and Tom O

    RonTom4: Tuscany Italy

    What is RonTom?

    We are two "Old Timers" with a passion for aviation and a penchant for telling stories. The result is some aviation/flightsim storytelling based on some real-world locations that we think are fun and/or interesting. We hope that this semi-regular feature will inspire you to learn or explore or fly somewhere new. (If you have locations that you'd like to have us visit, please feel free to e-mail: [email protected]).

    Into The White

    RonTom: Antarctica

    It is the fifth-largest continent, nearly twice the size of Australia, and on average the coldest, driest, and windiest place on the planet. It has the highest average elevation. It is, for the most part, a polar desert, with annual precipitation of 200 mm (8 in) along the coast and far less inland. At the same time, about 70% of the world's freshwater reserves are frozen here.

    RomTom: Antarctica     RomTom: Antarctica

    With an average ice thickness of 1.9 km (1.2 mi; 6,200 feet), Antarctica holds the record for the lowest temperature on Earth, measured to be -89.2 C (-128.6 F). The average for the third quarter (the coldest part of the year) is -63 C (-81 F). Native species include penguins, seals, mites, nematodes, and tardigrades. Vegetation consists of only tundra.

    Captain James Cook's ships, HMS Resolution and Adventure, crossed the Antarctic Circle in January 1773, December 1773, and again in January 1774. Cook came within about 120 km (75 mi) of the Antarctic coast before retreating in the face of field ice in January 1773. In 1775, Cook called the existence of a polar continent "probable" and in another copy of his journal he wrote: "(I) firmly believe it and it's more than probable that we have seen a part of it".

    RomTom: Antarctica     RomTom: Antarctica

    In 1895 the first confirmed landing was accomplished by a Norwegian team. Shackleton parties in 1907, became the first to reach the magnetic pole. Roald Amundsen became the first to reach the geographic pole in 1911, and Richard E. Byrd led four geographical and scientific research expeditions to Antarctica during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

    RomTom: Antarctica     RomTom: Antarctica

    It was not until October 31, 1956, that a U.S. Navy group led by Rear Admiral George J. Dufek successfully landed an aircraft at the South Pole.

    Today, Antarctica is governed by about 30 countries, all of which are parties to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty System. According to the terms of the treaty, military activity, mining, nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal are all prohibited. The treaty set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, and established freedom of scientific investigation and environmental protection.

    RomTom: Antarctica     RomTom: Antarctica

    Sovereignty over regions of Antarctica is claimed by seven countries. While a few of these countries have mutually recognized each other's claims, the validity of these claims is not recognized universally.

    As of 2022, 29 countries maintain 70 research stations in Antarctica, though most of these only fully operate in the summer. In the summer more than 4,000 scientists populate the place; which decreases to just over 1,000 in the winter. McMurdo Station, which is the largest research station in Antarctica, is capable of housing more than 1,000 scientists, visitors, and tourists.

    Researchers include biologists, geologists, oceanographers, physicists, astronomers, glaciologists, and meteorologists.

    RomTom: Antarctica     RomTom: Antarctica

    Small-scale 'expedition tourism' has existed since 1957 and is currently subject to Antarctic Treaty and Environmental Protocol provisions. Travel is largely by small or medium ship, focusing on specific scenic locations with accessible concentrations of iconic wildlife.

    Sightseeing flights (which did not land) operated out of Australia and New Zealand until the fatal crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 in the Mount Erebus disaster in 1979. Qantas resumed commercial overflights (https://www.antarcticaflights.com.au/) to Antarctica from Australia in the mid-1990s.

    Enough history and research for now. Time for some adventure. I've found an NSF LC-130 flight to jump on from New Zealand to McMurdo Station. See you on the ice!

    Tags: rontom

    1 Comment
    1. lastivka's Avatar
      lastivka -
      Thanks for this. Flying is not only about aircraft, but learning about the interesting, wonderful world we live in.
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