Patrick, Francisca and Joao are about to board the IL-76 cargo jet for the incredible flight south to Antarctica. The flight was scheduled for tomorrow, but the forecast for Union Glacier is looking like the winds might prevent the scheduled flight, so the plane is flying NOW!
They spent the morning attending an orientation, before returning to their hotel to weigh all of their personal kit, which was then taken to the airfield for loading. One tradition of visitors to Chile’s southermost city of Punta Arenas is to visit the statue of Ferdinand Magellan at Plaza Muñoz Gamero. Ferdinand Magellan was the Portuguese explorer that discovered Chile and pioneered the sailing route around the tip of South America. Legend has it that touching the foot of the statue of the Patagon (indigenous culture that inhabited Patagonia before the arrival of Europeans) will bring people luck. Kissing the toe will guarantee you come back to Punta Arenas. Here, Jacob and Patrick partake in the tradition.
The team is headed to the airport right now, and the flight will lift off shortly. The flight lasts about 4.5 hours, as the plane passes over the sea ice off the Antarctic Peninsula and then over the vast expanse of the most remote continent on our planet. It is a surreal, exciting and a bit nerve wracking to land on the blue ice runway of Union Glacier. The first steps onto that huge ice rink are even more bizarre!
The plan is for the team to have dinner tonight in Antarctica! As Jacob Schmitz just texted from Punta Arenas, “It’s GO TIME!”
We’ll post regular updates, so please check back. We expect the team to call from the Ice later today.