National Geographic : 1959 Oct
GEORGEJ. DUFEK AND FRED DARLING (OPPOSITE) sources, and expansion of industries in the Southern Hemisphere. Today if you wish to fly from the southern tip of South America to New Zealand, you have to go north to Los Angeles, California, across to Honolulu, down through the Fiji Islands, and south to New Zealand-a distance of 14,000 miles. By the Antarctic route the distance is 5,400 miles, a saving of 8,600 miles. I predict that within a few years com mercial airlines will be flying the Antarctic routes as they are now flying the Arctic. At present, aviation in the Antarctic de pends upon smoothed snow runways for ski planes, open water for sea planes, and hard ice runways for land planes. None of these can be used enough months of the year to develop the continent effectively. We must have a land runway. In 1955 we thought we had found such a site at our McMurdo base on Ross Island. The Navy's Seabees went to work with their slipsticks and dynamite. Bitter defeat! Their explosives revealed that six feet of lava was resting on a glacier. Evidently old Mt. Erebus once had blown her top and vomited her in sides upon the virgin ice of Ross Island. This was plainly no place for a permanent land runway. My pilots searched and probed. It had to be a large flat area of land that could be supplied by ship. In all that vast territory they found the spot-Marble Point, on Cape Bernacchi. I wish I could give one pilot credit for it. Perhaps the most enthusiastic was Capt. William M. "Trigger" Hawkes, who from the beginning planned the first landing at the South Pole with me. At any rate, one look at it convinced me that this was the place. It is on the mainland of Victoria Land, 45 550 Fish-catching Penguins Study a Rival's Ways Biologist John Reseck, Jr., fishes through McMurdo Sound's ice with seal-meat bait. The catch (left) be longs to the family Noto theniidae, and is nicknamed the Antarctic cod. Some 128 species of fish inhabit Antarctic waters. Their trademark: large heads, small bodies. One family has colorless blood. miles across McMurdo Sound from our main base at Hut Point. We already have a 1,700 foot land strip there for small Otter aircraft on wheels. Sir Edmund Hillary and I made the first wheels-on-dirt landing in Antarctica on it in 1957. Some day an airstrip of at least 5,000 feet will be constructed there, and that will be a great day for Antarctica and the whole Southern Hemisphere. The Antarctic, I believe, will go on being explored and exploited scientifically forever. In this sense the work will become routine. Scientists tell me that they are having a harder time each year recruiting people to come to the Antarctic. The glamour has worn off. So, if the U. S. is to make its full con tribution and obtain for itself the hidden things the Antarctic has to give us, our scien tists must be willing to come more and more for science and less and less for fame and excitement. Courageous Scientist Cheats Death A fine example of the Antarctic field scien tist is Albert P. Crary, 48-year-old geophysi cist, who this year received the Navy's highest civilian award. He is a sturdy man, built like a middleweight boxer, but he speaks in a scholarly low voice. He reminds me very much of Sir Vivian Fuchs.* When Crary returned to New Zealand last February, he had spent two continuous years in the Antarctic, served as scientific leader at Little America for three seasons, and made two major traverses, crawling over the frozen continent a total of 3,150 miles. He had many close calls on these long trac tor journeys, but perhaps the most unusual * See "The Crossing of Antarctica," by Sir Vivian Fuchs, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, January, 1959.