I’m back in New Zealand, after a night in McMurdo and C-17 flight from there to Christchurch arriving early yesterday morning. It amazes me how distant Antarctica feels already.
Transit between South Pole and New Zealand generally involves two flights on one or two types of military cargo planes – the LC-130 that’s been mentioned here several times, and the C-17 for lucky folks between Christchurch and McMurdo. From the perspective of an Antarctic air traveller, the C-17 is quicker, quieter, roomier, and more reliable than the LC-130. But, the C-17 lacks skis, so it’s not able to land at South Pole.
For as noisy and industrial as Antarctic cargo-class travel is, I actually prefer it to normal commercial air travel. It’s fun feeling the intense acceleration of a C-17’s short takeoff, there’s often room to wander around and lie down on the floor, few silly security pretences, and often a chance to ride in the cockpit.