During the weekend, about 10,000 people visited the US air force Globemaster at Christchurch airport. The Antarctic summer season opened today and the Globemaster was ready to take scientists and maintenance staff to Scott Base and McMurdo Base.
Scott Base is the New Zealand scientific base on Ross Island and McMurdo Base is the US scientific base, just 5km from Scott Base. Scott Base has room for 85 people during the summer. McMurdo Base has space for 1,258 people.
The Globemaster is a big plane. It is 53m long and can carry 189 passengers or 80 tonnes of cargo like helicopters. There are no seats and little heating so it is not a comfortable journey for passengers. The US Air Force has a base in Christchurch near the airport where they keep their equipment.
During the summer the US and New Zealand Air Force planes make about 100 flights to the Antarctic between October and February. They land on the ice runway near McMurdo Sound. Many times, planes cannot land because of bad weather and they have to return to New Zealand.
The Italian Antarctic team also has a base in Christchurch and South Korea is planning to open their Antarctic base in Christchurch early 2014. New Zealand and Argentina are the closest countries to the Antarctic.
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• A scientific base – place where the team of scientists live and work for a short time
• Air Force base – Headquarters; a place to keep equipment and plan work
• maintenance staff – people who maintain services at the base e.g. electricians, cooks, mechanics; they keep the base working
• McMurdo Sound – a sound is like a finger of the sea, with land on three sides.