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Planes, Cranes and Automobiles at the South Pole by Ella Derbyshire

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
Ella Derbyshire Ella Derbyshire
Explore score
0.14 Gigapixels
Date added
Mar 05, 2009
Date taken
Feb 04, 2009

Nikon D80's

architectural, environmental, geology, landscape, nature, travel

GigapanMagazine.org Will open in a new tab or window vol 1 issue 2

Here we see a nice collection of vehicles that you could find at the South Pole on a typical summer day. I captured this panorama on the walk back to the elevated station from the Twin Otter that is sitting in the fuel pit. They had just completed the end-of-summer aerial photo survey of the area. On that mission, three photographers recorded the snow drift patterns around the station.

The image contains quite a few of the vehicles that we use here. Soon the extreme cold of the South Pole winter will put most of these machines safely out of service until the sun reappears and warms everything up next summer. Sleds, cranes, LMC's, snowmobiles, pistenbullies and the like are all resident vehicles under the care of the Vehicle Maintenance Shop. The guys who work in the VMF are experts in what extreme cold does to metal, rubber and batteries. The VMF crew does a great job keeping us mobile despite the cold weather and the supply difficulties that are inherent to working in an outpost at the bottom of the planet.

The last plane of the summer of 2008-09, which was an LC-130 like the one in this image, tipped its wings into the low afternoon sun on February 16. The first plane to fly to Pole in mid-October will likely be one of Kenn Borek’s Baslers which will come from Canada, cross North and South America, stop over at Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula and then continue on to the Pole. Kenn Borek's Twin Otters and other Baslers will follow soon afterward.

In early November, when the temperature rises above -50 degrees Fahrenheit, the LC-130's flown by the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard will also return to the Pole.

Admiral Richard E. Byrd flew the first plane over the South Pole on November 29, 1929. Rear Admiral George Dufek landed the first plane here on October 31, 1956, and the construction of Old Pole began soon afterward. Planes have been flying supplies here since 1956, and air transportation has made research at this remote outpost possible. In the future, the planes will continue, but we will also be using overland traverses to move some of the cargo. This will be very nice when scientific payloads are too large to fit into the hold of an LC-130. Instead of hours needed for a plane to fly from the coast, the traverses take a month or more to get here and another month to return to McMurdo, but land travel will be much less expensive.

This image also shows the summer housing and summer work shops. It gives a nice peek at the area behind the elevated station.

The 56 images of this panorama were photographed with a Nikon D80 and stitched with Autopano Pro.

Gigapan Comments (3)

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  1. Roger Wolff

    Roger Wolff (September 15, 2009, 04:18AM )

    What direction was the camera pointed at when you took that picture? uhh... North! All 56 of them! haha! Nice picture! Thanks.

  2. Ella Derbyshire

    Ella Derbyshire (August 29, 2009, 02:48PM )

    Roald Amundsen of Norway and his party arrived at the South Pole by dog sled on December 18, 1911. Robert Falcon Scott of Great Britain and his small expedition man-hauled their sleds across the Polar Plateau and arrived here a month later. All of Amundsen's party returned home safely. All of Scott's party died on the return trip across the ice. Admiral Richard E. Byrd's plane flew over the Pole in 1929, but he did not land here. It was not until 1956 when Rear Admiral George Dufek actually landed a plane at the South Pole and stepped foot on the ice with six other Americans that a permanent station at the South Pole became a reality. Thus it seems that the airplane made the research station at the South Pole a possibility.

  3. Ella Derbyshire

    Ella Derbyshire (August 28, 2009, 06:43PM )

    This is one of my favorite images of the Pole because it shows a nice selection of the vehicles that we use here.

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