Global environmental challenges
You have to feel sorry for Australian aviator George Hubert Wilkins, one of the pioneers of flying in Antarctica who lived from 1888 to 1958 – and whose name is commemorated in an Antarctic Ice Shelf that is about to vanish into the ocean.
We landed near the narrowest point of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in a plane with a group of scientists from the British Antarctic Survey – who reckoned it was the first time anyone had visited within tens of kilometres (miles).
And it will probably be the last visit since the shelf is poised to collapse into the sea (for a story, click here).
Canadian pilot Steve King skimmed the Twin Otter plane in low over the ice and let the skis on the undercarriage slide over to test the surface for crevasses without committing to landing. We then swooped around and landed on the slushy ice — it’s scary enough landing on a runway in a small plane; here there was nothing but trackless white.