Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Polar Research Aircraft in La Ronge

As an interesting aside from the plants, our subarctic location may have put us on a flight path for this research aircraft which was sitting on the tarmac at La Ronge's airport this evening. It is Polar 5, from the German Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

I used Google translate to read some of the rest of their webpages, which are in German. I like the Google translation of website's educational information on geology and the layers of the earth entitled "Earth's Crust and Bowels". Very Shakespearean. This aircraft is a Basler BT-67, built on the frame of a retrofitted Douglas CD-3 "Candy Bomber", which was flown by the Allies in 1944-1949.

It got this name during the blockade of Berlin in 1949, when the Allied brought supplies to the western part of the city. The pilots apparently voluntarily tossed some candy attached to little parachutes from the planes to Berlin children watching the planes from the edges of the airstrip. The gesture was memorable, as evidenced by the lasting nickname.

This aircraft is outfitted with many advanced measuring devices for polar research and can measure parameters such as sea ice thickness, the magnetic field of the Earth, surface temperature, and topography under the ice. Polar 5 has been operating since 2007. The Antarctic research season is November to March. It seems the plane has been in the Canadian north as a part of a project called Pan‐Arctic Measurements and Arctic Regional Climate Model Simulations (PAMARCMIP) 2012, in which it traveled to Station Nord, Resolute Bay, Eureka and Alert. Pictures from the flights are posted online. According to its schedule, it should be done this project now. The Polar 5 replaces the Polar 4, which was damaged beyond repair in a hard landing in Antarctica in 2005.

1 comment:

Grey.and.Vis.Mom said...

Awesome! I thought I saw a different plane in the sky! I'm right under the landing and take off path.