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Antarctic Flight

In the 1920s and 30s, a number of RAAF pilots participated in various expeditions and rescue missions to Antarctica. On one occasion a RAAF Gipsy Moth and Wapiti were embarked aboard the Discovery II when it successfully rescued two Americans lost during a trans-Antarctic flight in 1935.

Initial attempts to establish an Antarctic base in the late 1940s failed with the loss of a RAAF Supermarine Walrus at Heard Island in 1948 and the unsuitability of a Sikorsky Kingfisher floatplane used on a second expedition that year. However, the inclusion of two RAAF Auster aircraft in a mission to the continent in 1955 proved vital in the establishment of the first permanent base at Mawson.

Over the next eight years, the RAAF contingent included two Beavers and one Dakota aircraft, and provided the only means to quickly traverse this barren continent. Operating conditions were horrendous as demonstrated when the Dakota broke free from its anchor cables during a gale and was blown over eight miles from the base at Mawson.

After 1963, the RAAF planes were withdrawn, however RAAF Hercules aircraft still occasionally flew to the US base at McMurdo Sound through the 1970s and 80s.

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