July 18, 2008

"How about going to Antarctica this weekend?"

... may become an ordinary discussion in near future, at least for the Aussies and Kiwis to begin with. Indeed, those travel enthusiasts who would like to explore all the continents soon can make it even more easier. Instead of time-consuming ship cruises, they will be able to fly to Antarctica! I'm not talking about the scenery flights above Antarctica, but actual landing there! Australian Antarctic Division has already announced the flight schedule to Antarctica for season 2008-2009 (between October and February. It'll summer there, it will be warmer... just -15 to -35°C )

As Airline Blog reports:
The Australian government has started air service from Hobart, Australia to the Wilkins Runway in Antarctica. The route is flown by a single Airbus A319-115LR, which is capable of flying from Hobart to Antarctica and back without refueling (the flight takes about 4.3 hours). The first flight (December 2007) was a proving flight and only carried operational personnel - regular passenger flights will hopefully get approval from authorities to commence soon. (View a video of the landing here.)

According to the website of the Australian Antarctic Division, the service will operate during the summer months only (too cold during the winter!). The Wilkins Runway is basically 'paved snow' on top of blue ice, but is still capable of handling an Airbus A319. If all goes well, the flights will take about 19 passengers in a highly flexible configuration, which allows it to transport a combination of both passengers and cargo. It can also serve as a medical evacuation plane, too.

I believe that over the years, Antarctica trips will become more popular for ordinary tourists and more affordable. Nowadays you can also take flights to Antarctica, but it's just a tour above the land of ices without landing on it. And not everyone can easily afford it. Anyway, I wouldn't call it as real Antarctica experience. You gotta freeze your *ss, you gotta experience this, you gotta feel the ices. For me, it would be awesome experience (as long as it's short one though), others reaction might be the same as the Madagascar penguins' reaction for Antarctica (jump to 4:31)! :))

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+++ Check my travel photo sets at aibek_dunaev's Photo Sets on Flickriver


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