Press Release – Christchurch City Council
Christchurch will receive a symbolic aerial salute this Friday, as the United States Air Force makes a spectacular arrival the city to mark the opening of the 2012/13 Antarctic Season.Aerial salute to Christchurch as Antarctic Season opens
Christchurch will receive a symbolic aerial salute this Friday, as the United States Air Force makes a spectacular arrival the city to mark the opening of the 2012/13 Antarctic Season.
The afternoon of Friday 28 September will run with military precision: arriving over the Pacific from Hawaii’s Hickam Air Force Base, the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster will bank in over New Brighton Pier at approximately 1.05pm, weather permitting. With a flight path that includes Chisnallwood Intermediate School, the C-17 will then make its way across the city at an altitude of 1300 feet. At approximately 1.15pm, over the NZ IceFest site in Hagley Park, personnel on board the C-17 will photograph the word “ICEFEST” on the ground below, as spelled out by a formation of visiting schoolchildren.
On Monday 1 October, the C-17 will transport Scott Base and McMurdo Station personnel south to Antarctica, enabling scientific work to begin over the summer – the “Antarctic Season”. Christchurch International Airport hosts up to 100 such departures each season.
Mayor Bob Parker says the aerial salute is an honour.
“We all have good cause to be proud. This is a touching tribute to our city from our friends in the United States, and to our eastern communities in particular, which have remained resilient in the face of some serious upheaval. We’re hoping there will be a great view of the action from New Brighton Pier.”
He also emphasises the value of the Antarctic Season to Canterbury.
“It’s a huge boost to our economy to have the United States remain committed to Christchurch as their gateway to Antarctica. Christchurch acts as the logistics hub for the United States and Italian Antarctic programmes – combined, these programmes directly contribute $88 million to the Canterbury economy, and this number will only increase once the Korean Antarctic programme begins servicing its new base from Christchurch in early 2014.”
The public will have the opportunity to explore the C-17 itself, and other Antarctic aircraft, before they journey south: the Antarctic Air Day will run at Christchurch International Airport on Saturday 29 September from 11am–4pm. Visitors will be guided inside the aircraft by United States and Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel, and entertained by musicians Don McGlashan and Bond Street Bridge.
The season opening concludes with the annual South to Antarctica Church Service at 11am on Sunday 30 September. The event will be led by the Venerable Lynda Patterson, Acting Dean of ChristChurch Cathedral, in Christ’s College Chapel, followed by a wreath-laying at Captain Scott’s statue in the NZ IceFest site at Hagley Park. The gesture will honour and acknowledge Antarctic science and its supporters, as well as the memory of Scott and others who have lost their lives in Antarctica.
For more information on the Christchurch Airport Antarctic Air Day, please visit www.nzicefest.co.nz