US Globemaster wows Christchurch crowds
Christchurch crowds were wowed by the arrival of a United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster, which landed at Christchurch International Airport yesterday. Hundreds of excited spectors queued for hours to get a look inside the aircraft.
The public were able to explore the aircraft, guided by United States and Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel.
Every October, Scott Base and McMurdo Station personnel are flown down to Ross Island, Antarctica, by the United States Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. They call this the Season Opening that begins the summer scientific season on the ice.
The plane flew over Christchurch on Friday in a symbolic salute to mark the opening of the 2012 to 2013 Antarctic season.
"It's a huge boost to our economy to have the United States remain committed to Christchurch as their gateway to Antarctica," said Mayor Bob Parker.
Christchurch International Airport plays host to 100 departures a season, with aircraft like the US C-17 Globemaster and the Kiwi P3 Orion embarking on the 5-8 hour journey south. Christchurch is also a base for the Italian Antarctic programme.
"Combined, these programmes directly contribute $88 million to the Canterbury economy."
The season opening finishes with a South to Antarctica Church Service today at Christ College Chapel, and the laying of wreaths at Robert Falcon Scott's statue to honour Antarctic science and the people who have dedicated their lives to it.