This year, the flight from New Zealand to Antarctica was especially unique and memorable. Instead of the usual crowded military plane without windows, we were treated to a ride on an Airbus, a large and comfortable airplane much like the ones that fly from place to place in the US. Below, our team boards the plane in Christchurch, at center is Dr. Diana Wall.

All aboard!

Since there were only about 20 passengers, most were able to sit in the business class cabin- a thrilling first for many of us! It was really fun to play with our plush, fully reclining seats; but even though quite comfortable it was hard to sleep from all the excitement.

Flying in style

There were more perks of this unique flight, including visits to the cockpit to chat with the pilot and officers. Below, Dr. Uffe Nielsen checks out the control panels up front.

Uffe in Cockpit

Also, we were treated to cabin service by a friendly crew that traded their professional attire for snow gear as we approached Antarctica. Here, Dr. Breana Simmons orders a beverage from the passing cart.

Cabin service

The views from the plane windows were hard to believe. As we approached the continent, the blue water of the Southern Ocean gave way to frozen sea ice.

Ice and water

Soon, the glacier and snow covered mountains of Antarctica came into view.

Plane views

After a scenic five hour trip, our plane landed on the sea ice runway close to McMurdo Station which is located on Ross Island in Antarctica.
Why do we land on ice instead of the ground?
Here we take in our first impressions of the White Continent; in the background
you can see Mt. Discovery and the Royal Society mountain range.

Arrival in Antarctica

From the runway, we boarded a large shuttle vehicle bound for McMurdo Station, the home base for the United States Antarctic Program and our home for the next month and a half. Below is a view of McMurdo Station from the air. For more information and photos of McMurdo follow this link:
McMurdo Station.

McMurdo from the air