History of Australian Antarctic aviation
Australia has played a significant role in the development of aviation in Antarctica.
The use of aircraft in Antarctica in support of science is not new or revolutionary. The Australian adventurer, Sir Hubert Wilkins, was the first to fly over the Antarctic continent on 16 November 1928, but it was Sir Douglas Mawson who first saw the potential for aerial exploration. His 1911 expedition to Commonwealth Bay included plans to use a Vickers REP Monoplane. However, thanks to an accident that occurred during a demonstration flight just prior to departure, the Vickers was never airborne in Antarctica.
Mawson’s subsequent British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) between 1929 and 1931, relied heavily on its aerial component. A Gypsy Moth float plane undertook extensive aerial surveys of the coast of what was later to become Australian Antarctic Territory.
Many national and private Antarctic expeditions since this time have used air transport extensively in exploration, mapping, deployment of field parties and science support.
Conventional aircraft that have supported ANARE since 1947, range from the Vickers Supermarine Walrus on Heard Island in 1947, to the Lockheed C130 Hercules, to the Airbus A319.