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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Antarctica. Reflections 2011

Adventures are amazing... and Dr Judith O'Malley-Ford sent me the most incredible adventure... with photos flying over the Antarctica. From the front of the plane or the back. Enjoy the reflections of a journey with a fabulous lady....

"Back from ANTARCTICA....... what an experience!!!!!!!! I’ve always wanted to do this trip. The flight was due out from Sydney at first light on Sunday morning 24/01/2011

Saturday night I slept for less than an hour at a time... went to bed 10.00pm,.. Cat napped most of the time, wide awake at 12.15am Sunday morning, again at 2.00am, and 4.00am so tuned into listen to Late Night Live from Thursday night’s program, repeated again Sunday morning. So loud that a certain bass baritone voice was reverberating around the entire room.

As I was leaving the hotel on Sunday morning 5.00am, the lift stopped a couple of floors further down, and an older couple got in. We all paused in the foyer of the hotel, as the air-line monitor screens for the departure and arrival schedules were listed on big plasma TV screens.

"We’re going to Antarctica" she announced.

"So am I ".... so in the dark, Doug, Annette and I walked a short distance to the airport.

She told me she, "Sets off all of the buzzers when she goes through the security" with her syringe driver morphine pump.

Soon we were ready to board. Annette and Doug were in economy, and I was in business.

I was sitting in a window seat. Next to me was the Carol, wife of the NO 1 captain, Peter, and on the other side of the aisle to her was her friend Judy, the wife of the 2nd No 1 captain, Steve. There were 3 captains and a second officer in all.... 2 V-E-R-Y- senior as you would imagine, one captain in training for "endorsement on the Antarctic trip" Tim, and a rookie 2nd officer Luke.

Thirteen hours in the air in a 747 400 series (flight 2910, call sign, VH OEH, AUSTRALIA. OSCAR ECHO HOTEL... but NO "City name". I suggested, "AUSTRALIAN ANTARCTIC TERRITORY"). A big bird with the red 6 foot high upturned wingtips. A design inspired by observing the maneuverings of a giant eagle with “wing-cam”. It minimizes drag, maximizes lift and reduces wingtip vortices. The design increases lift for more efficient flying, more efficient fuel economy to carry the maximum load of fuel, maximum numbers of passengers, maximal flying time, maximal Antarctic experience.

Five hours of flying over the driest continent in the world, glaciers, enormous mountains, sea ice, icebergs, from Ob Bay to Dryglaski Ice Tongue. We flew up Reeves Glacier (HOW ENORMOUS IS THAT FOR A GLACIER!!!!..... Over Mt Minto, 13,000 feet, the highest peak in Antarctica. By law, we weren’t allowed to fly below 18,000feet. Not after the Mt Erebus episode.

There were visitations to us from just about every member of the crew, and the travel GURU who organized the charter sightseeing trip, the man doing the video. They were all amazing. There were 4 videos on board 3 set up, and one roving with the video man.

The captain conducted an air to ground conversation with one of the scientific expeditioners (Amy) on Casey Scientific Base. The glaciologists talked about climate change no end, and how 70% of the entire earth's supply of fresh water is locked into the ice in the big A. And how if all of the ice there melted the sea/ocean levels would rise by something like 60 or 70 meters. She said it was a “warm day” there, a mere 2 degrees Celsius.

We did figure of 8 flying some of the time over the coastline and up and down the Reeve Glacier. The flight deck crew did a bit of fancy flying (as much as one can do in a 747), a bit of waggling of the wings, and lots of freestyle maneuvers over the area without requiring ground control clearance.

What's the one thing you wouldn't expect to see in such a remote place.... another aircraft.... We saw a Hercules flying one of the bases to drop off supplies. We didn’t make any air to air contact of any kind apart from visual, but it left a vapor trail. I took a pic but it’s vanished into insignificance in the vast landscape.

The food was fantastic, "lunch", snacks, and dinner on the way back.

Q.    What do you have for desert for lunch on the way to Antarctica?

A.    A frozen plateau of apricot ice-cream.... I would have thought penguin flavor, but perhaps that's a little environmentally insensitive.

I invited Annette, and Doug to come up front in the plane during the time over the ice, and it was Doug who was a bit squeamish with all of the to-ing and fro-ing of the rolling of the big bird, so I gave him some stemetil, and the flight attendants were handing out Weiss bars (this is a local ice-cream bar product in various flavors), and he started to feel a bit better, and after a little while they went back to row 66.

I managed to get my Antarctic souvenir map autographed by all of the flight deck crew (without even asking), signed with my red Viagra pen. This was of course of stand-out significance. The Viagra induced souvenir at 38,000 feet, a new Viagra record.

And as a special gift, I was presented with the satellite navigation papers from the flight-schedule and a visit to the flight deck once we had landed back.... N-O-O-O ONE is allowed in the flight deck during flight, including the 2 women next to me, but we made up for it later. We were all invited to go up later. I was invited to sit in the pilot's seat, steering wheel in hand, but couldn’t find the pedal for the metal.

I had a fantastic time.....

You have to love flying though, especially in figure of 8's, lots of banking, moving around the aircraft, I felt like I was walking either uphill, downhill,... a lot of feeling a "bit under the weather", unsteady on the feet negotiating the aisles, and sitting on the armrests of the seats.

Next morning, the eyelids refused to open. Eventually, I persuaded them. I still felt a bit light headed, but it might be a contribution from of the chardonnay which we drank all day yesterday. Now for a COFFEE,.. breakfast,… make that lunch. "

Judith... thanks for sharing your adventure. 
So What was Your Best Adventure?

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Oh what great fun. Thanks for sharing this with us, Karlene. -C.

    1. Thank you Craig! Yes... so much fun. I know how much she enjoyed it.


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