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  •   Home > News > Business

    Aircrew dig trenches on Ross Ice Shelf

    Two nights in the world's most inhospitable conditions is all part of the job for members of the New Zealand RAF.

    14 November 2017

    Members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force hope that coping for two nights in tents on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica is only ever part of the training, and not the real thing.

    Battling temperatures as low as -31C, seven aircrew and two survival training instructors recently spent one night in tents on the sea ice in front of the Erebus Ice Tongue, and the second night in trenches dug on the Ross Ice Shelf.

    RNZAF crew are preparing to start its annual airlift mission to the continent, so preparing for the environment in case the worst should happen is important, says cold weather training instructor Sergeant Ryan Turei.

    "The priority is survival so we teach them tactics that could facilitate their survival and rescue in worst-case scenarios," he said.

    The week-long course in Antarctica each year covers how to stay warm, build shelter and techniques to facilitate ice rescues, including the effective use of locator beacons, flares and emergency blankets.

    "The most important advice we give is to be prepared - physically and mentally. There are not many second chances in that kind of environment," Sergeant Turei said.

    Flying Officer Max Longdill, who will fly one of the C-130 Hercules flights to Phoenix Airfield in McMurdo Station for the first time later this month, said the survival training was "enormously valuable".

    On average, the NZDF's yearly airlift missions to Antarctica ferry about 320 scientists and support staff and 40 tonnes of freight.


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