Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Antarctic's first plane found in ice

Oh, the Independent and your tricky headlines:

Antarctic's first plane found in ice

Rare things happen once in a blue moon, and on New Year's Day a blue moon, coupled with an exceptionally low tide, uncovered a long-sought treasure in the frozen wastes of Antarctica: one of the world's earliest aeroplanes, entombed in ice for decades.
The plane – the first off the Vickers production line in Britain – was built in 1911, only eight years after the Wright brothers executed the first powered flight. It was taken to Antarctica by Douglas Mawson, the Australian explorer, but abandoned in 1914 after its engine seized up during attempts to use it as an "air tractor", or motorised sledge.
Nice opening.  What about the flyin' about the Antarctic with the contraption?
Mawson had hoped to stage the first flight over the Antarctic ice cap, but the plane crashed on the Australian mainland before he set sail. No one was hurt, but with the wings damaged and no time to repair them, the explorer adapted the craft to haul his sledges, adding skis to the undercarriage and a special tail-rudder.
Slanty letters mine.  It's still official, first flight on the continent was in 1928, first flight over the pole was Richard Byrd, 1929, with more to follow.

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