Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Summer Snow Job for RAAF; Amberley's Globemasters Help Keep Australia's Antarctic Base Supplied

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Summer Snow Job for RAAF; Amberley's Globemasters Help Keep Australia's Antarctic Base Supplied

Article excerpt

Byline: Gary Worrall gary.worrall@qt.com.au

A "SURREAL" experience is how one Amberley pilot described his summer, flying supplies and personnel to the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) base at Casey Station.

Flight Lieutenant Justin was one of the pilots from 36 Squadron tasked with flying RAAF C-17 Globemasters to the AAD, including a trip as lead pilot on a precision air drop to the Bungers Hill airfield, 500km west of the main Australian base.

FLTLT Justin said the missions were a "developmental" process for the RAAF, with the first missions flown in 2015.

"We now do six to eight missions per season, and the air drop was one of those missions," he said.

Despite initial concerns the Wilkins Aerodrome runway, carved from the ice, would be slippery, FLT LT Justin said it proved to be a stable surface to land on.

"The ice runway is relatively benign, I was worried about it being slippery, but I spoke to other pilots, and they said it would be fine."

The biggest surprise was turning the Globemaster aircraft on the ground, with the aircraft sliding after it had stopped rolling.

"I did have a bit of an 'Oh No!' moment - it caught me a bit by surprise."

Each AAD support mission required rigorous planning, he said, with weather forecasts the biggest factor in deciding when flights went ahead.

"The weather situation is quite fluid, we could only take off from Australia in a good weather window."

As aircraft headed south, FLT LT Justin said the co-pilot was in constant communication with the Casey Station meteorology office, updating weather forecasts.

"We did have a couple of flights that were turned around because the weather changed in flight, while another crew was told to get out immediately, and just got off before the weather arrived. …

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