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People exit a large airplane at night.
Photo Credit: Alasdair Turner
U.S. Antarctic Program participants exit a U.S. Air Force C-17 at Pegasus Airfield on Aug. 15. The flight carried 51 people to McMurdo Station, which has been in winter isolation for months.

On-time arrival

First flight since May lands at McMurdo Station's Pegasus Airfield

The first plane to touch down at McMurdo Station’s Pegasus Airfield External U.S. government site in several months landed on Aug. 15 (local time), ending the winter isolation for 141 people.

People board a bus at night.
Photo Credit: Alasdair Turner
New arrivals prepare to board Ivan the Terra Bus.

The U.S. Air Force External U.S. government site C-17 Globemaster III External Non-U.S. government site carried 51 people south to the main hub of the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) External U.S. government site, which is managed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) External U.S. government site. A second flight, using night vision goggle capability and carrying only cargo, was scheduled to reach McMurdo on Aug. 17.

Cargo is removed from inside a plane.
Photo Credit: Alasdair Turner
Cargo is unloaded from the C-17.

The two flights represent the first phase of what’s known as winter fly-in, or winfly, when a vanguard of support personnel arrive at McMurdo to help prepare the station for the busy Antarctic research season, which begins in October and runs through the end of February.

Three more flights are planned for the first week of September, using the Australian Antarctic Division’s Airbus A319 External Non-U.S. government site. An estimated 99 people will arrive that week. The next flight won’t be until Oct. 3, when a Royal New Zealand Air Force External Non-U.S. government site B-757 will kick off the 2013-14 field season. New Zealand’s Scott Base External Non-U.S. government site is co-located with McMurdo on Ross Island.