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Antarctic's First Plane, Found In Ice 110

Posted by timothy
from the ice-tractor-cometh dept.
Arvisp writes "In 1912 Australian explorer Douglas Mawson planned to fly over the southern pole. His lost plane has now been found. 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. For the past three years, a team of Australian explorers has been engaged in a fruitless search for the aircraft, last seen in 1975. Then on Friday, a carpenter with the team, Mark Farrell, struck gold: wandering along the icy shore near the team's camp, he noticed large fragments of metal sitting among the rocks, just a few inches beneath the water."
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Antarctic's First Plane, Found In Ice

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  • by suso (153703) * on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:12AM (#30654284) Homepage Journal

    And inside they found a pipe in a keg of gun powder that had a pipe with clues that mean that there is a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

    • by MistrBlank (1183469) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:38AM (#30654548)

      I'll claim rights on a second story and write the one that has the pilot still sitting in the cockpit with his chest blown out. And several miles below the ice surface there's a temple that's a home to aliens that another alien race comes in to exterminate after the expedition team frees them.

      • by Narpak (961733)

        I'll claim rights on a second story and write the one that has the pilot still sitting in the cockpit with his chest blown out.

        How about something original. Like a story about how its not a plane but an alien spacecraft carrying an extraterrestrial shapechanging parasite that begins killing off staff at a Antarctica research base.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Arancaytar (966377)

      Actually, they found traces of an ancient race of tentacled aliens that were ultimately responsible for creating us. Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by FatdogHaiku (978357)

        Actually, they found traces of an ancient race of tentacled aliens that were ultimately responsible for creating us. Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

        So, you're saying I should not have fried up that batch of giant calamari?

  • by elrous0 (869638) *
    I have a funny feeling this "Antarctic's First Plane" thing started when an American dared point out that the first plane to fly in Antarctica was the "Stars and Stripes" (built by the legendary Sherman Farchild [wikipedia.org], and one of his pioneering aerial surveys). Then, as is always the case when an American dares claim a "first" in anything, hundreds of Europeans, Canadians, Australians, etc. with inferiority complexes immediately rushed out and found an obscure case of someone *shipping* a plane to Antarctica befo
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fremsley471 (792813)
      This European is always astonished how Alcock and Brown's achievement of 1919 is so overshadowed by Lindbergh's 1927 flight. Perhaps that's one of the sources of resentment that lead to 'pissing contests'?
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Would you feel better if we parsed it with "between America and *mainland* Europe"?
        • So who was the first to fly from mainland America to mainland Europe? Lindbergh took off from the island of Manhattan... :)

          When we get to ideas of 'mainland' or 'solo' into events rather than simply crossing a vast ocean, well, where do we stop? When the first person arrives on the moon solo, and one looks forward to that hell of an achievement, will they upstage Armstrong and Aldrin?

          • by nabsltd (1313397)

            So who was the first to fly from mainland America to mainland Europe? Lindbergh took off from the island of Manhattan... :)

            Although still on an island, Roosevelt Field [wikipedia.org] was on Long Island, not Manhattan.

          • by Dishevel (1105119) *
            No Autopilots back then. Difficult plane to fly as well. A solo crossing was in fact much more difficult than a team crossing. If you can't figure that out then I will just believe that you have figured it out (since no one can possibly be that fucking stupid) and have decided to ignore that fact so you can be a true anti American.
      • by heck (609097) <deadaccount@nobodyhere.com> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:54AM (#30654774)
        This European is always astonished how Alcock and Brown's achievement of 1919 is so overshadowed by Lindbergh's 1927 flight. Perhaps that's one of the sources of resentment that lead to 'pissing contests'?

        Because Lindbergh was the first to do it solo

        And Alcock and Brown weren't the first to make the flight over the Atlantic, although they were the first to do a non-stop. The crew of the NC-4 did it first (but they used more than one aircraft) Alcock and Brown did have balls - climbing out on the wings to chip off the ice as they flew.

        • by Gr8Apes (679165)

          Damn - no karma.

          Somehow the "solo" bit was missed by the GP.

        • Doing it solo wasn't a requirement of the Orteig Prize. The fact that he was able to go from a New York airfield to a Paris airfield was the big thing. It showed that transatlantic flight from one major destination to another was possible.

          Several well known aviators, with tri-engine planes and multiple person air crews had attempted it but failed, sometimes fatally. Lindbergh, a relative unknown, did it solo, with a single engine monoplane.

      • by Duhavid (677874)

        This American is also.

      • I think the American argument would be it doesn't count if you crash land in a bog at the end...even if you don't die. Still chipping ice off manually in flight is pretty damn impressive.
      • Alcock and Brown flew from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919. According to the specs from "The Daily Mail", "the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland and any point in Great Britain or Ireland" in 72 continuous hours" would win the ten thousand pound prize.

        Alcock and Brown did it non-stop. But a couple of weeks earlier an American airplane, the NC-4, was the first to cross the Atlantic under its own power.

    • by bigdavex (155746)

      An Aussie [wikipedia.org] first flew across Pacific; I'd think that should be sufficient for bragging rights.

    • by clemdoc (624639)
      A pissing contest around the south pole? Who's the first to freeze off his b*lls?
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      so they could once again show those big-shot Americans that their dicks were bigger. Us big-shot Americans don't need to be shown that our dicks are bigger; we already know!
    • by AmigaMMC (1103025)
      Except that in 1912 Americans were pretty much mostly Europeans. And I don't recall American Indians flying over Antarctica
    • by blitz487 (606553)
      The Wright brothers had 5 major innovations that set them apart: 1. A propellor design that was 90% efficient rather than 50% 2. Wing warping for roll control 3. Rudder attached to the wing warping for controlled turns, solving the adverse yaw problem 4. Innovative balance in the wind tunnel, used the wind tunnel to design the airfoil, as all existing data proved to be wrong by a factor of 2 5. Lightweight gasoline engine The Wrights also engaged in an organized, step-by-step method of development, and ca
    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      Absolutely a "writing your name in the snow" contest
  • by Suki I (1546431) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:20AM (#30654372) Homepage Journal
    A few paragraphs down in TFA:

    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.

    It was an airplane before being loaded on the boat, then it was just a cool looking tug.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by aqk (844307)

      A few paragraphs down in TFA:

      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.

      It was an airplane before being loaded on the boat, then it was just a cool looking tug.

      Umm... before you go any deeper...

      CANADA INVENTED THE SNOWMOBILE.
      Take THAT, Mr. Big-Dick!

  • by Nick Number (447026) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:23AM (#30654392) Homepage Journal

    A spokesman for the team discovering the aircraft issued a short statement, consisting solely of

    "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"

    ...in an Australian accent.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:24AM (#30654400) Homepage Journal

    Then on Friday, a carpenter with the team, Mark Farrell, struck gold: wandering along the icy shore near the team's camp, he noticed large fragments of metal sitting among the rocks, just a few inches beneath the water."

    The plane was made of gold? I guess they don't build 'em like they used to, huh?

    • by nschubach (922175)

      Well it's no wonder it couldn't fly. You'd be better off with a lead balloon [mythbustersresults.com] given the density and weight of gold!

    • by jittles (1613415)

      The plane was made of gold? I guess they don't build 'em like they used to, huh?

      At the time gold was the most suitable material for the airframe. It was prized both for its strength and weight characteristics. That is, of course, until nuclear fission was discovered. Then the uranium airframe became a no brainer.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Mawson was also Antarctica's first pimp.
  • by minginqunt (225413) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:41AM (#30654580) Homepage Journal

    I hope you're all preparing to welcome our new Shuggoth overlords.

    I suspect I, for one, will.

  • Does equipment ever leave Antarctica? I mean, okay, he left the plane behind, sure, because he didn't need it anymore; does that happen still today? What I mean is, when a building or camp is abandoned, or when a tractor or plane breaks down in an irreparable way, is there any attempt to remove it, or do they just abandon it in place, let the wind and snow take its course, and leave it to archeologists years hence to rediscover it?

    It would seem that Antarctica could be, among other things, a pretty cool jun

    • by nschubach (922175)

      Just wait for a future civilization to dig up all that crap and assume that we either lived in the coldest parts of Earth or Earth rotated and killed us off.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Antarctic Treaty means pretty much everything that can possibly be cleaned up is cleaned up. Things that can't be cleaned up shouldn't even be done.

  • by catbertscousin (770186) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:52AM (#30654732)
    Take some dogs with you when you drill, and if they start going nuts about any large, plant-like objects you find, leave them alone!
    Also listen for strange piping sounds in the wind.
  • I mean, seriously, that title is kinda pointless. If it never left the Antarctic, there's a darn good chance it's 'In Ice'. It would have been more newsworthy if it was found somewhere else.

  • Can you call a plane that never flew on the Antarctic the first plane on the Antarctic?
    Because in that case I'm going to build the first hover-car on Earth.

  • It does seem as if the melting of Antarctic ice is what revealed the long-lost plane. Global warming, anyone?

    • by sycodon (149926) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:12PM (#30655900)

      It was still sitting on the ice when he returned in 1929 and 1931, and in 1975 it was photographed after a big ice melt.

      Abandoned in 1914, it was still visible at least until 1931. Between then and 1975 or so it was covered in ice but after "a big ice melt it", was visible again. And now, it is barely visible as it is covered in ice again.

      Hardly evidence that can be used to support global warming.

      • about as credible as the other arguments I've heard
      • by mangu (126918)

        Hardly evidence that can be used to support global warming.

        TFA says: "exposed by a blue moon (the second full moon in a calendar month), the lowest tide ever recorded at that site and an unprecedented melting of ice".

        Tell me again how an unprecedented melting of ice could not be an evidence of global warming?

        • by sycodon (149926)

          Since it was visible in 1975, the melting evidently was not unprecedented.

          • Since it was visible in 1975, the melting evidently was not unprecedented.

            From another paragraph in TFA: "in 1975 it was photographed after a big ice melt"

            So, the ice melt in 1975 was big. The current ice melt is unprecedented, which means obviously bigger than the one in 1975.

            You know, the plural of anecdote is not data and we are talking about a single point here. But even then this can be interpreted as evidence of global warming.

            • by sycodon (149926)

              I see, because the author uses the word "Big" for 1975 and then "Unprecedented" for now, that is interpreted as evidence of global warming.

              The standards of scientific proof have gotten pretty low these days.

              • by mangu (126918)

                that is interpreted as evidence of global warming

                No, it was you [slashdot.org] who tried to turn an otherwise unrelated story into evidence against global warming. I just showed how illogical your trolling was.

                If you want evidence for global warming you can just google it [google.com].

                • by sycodon (149926)

                  RTFP:
                  "Hardly evidence that can be used to support global warming"

                  That is not a statement against global warming.

      • by riverat1 (1048260)

        Hardly evidence that can be used to refute global warming either.

        • by sycodon (149926)

          Did I saw it refuted it? Oh, that's right...I didn't.

          Of course, it's not up to anyone to refute it, but it is up to someone to prove it.

          • Did I saw it refuted it? Oh, that's right...I didn't.

            Then why did you mention it? The least one can say is that your comment was off topic.

  • Let me guess: It hid in plane site! ^^

  • Ahem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:33PM (#30657348) Journal

    Since they have found the plane, that then means that the search really wasn't 'fruitless', was it?

  • What kind of article of this kind doesn't include some interesting photos? I'm enraged! I have no interest in READING about this stupid plane!
  • This find was due to the melting glaciers... the planet is doomed.... unless you are warmblooded ;)
  • Here is photo taken in 1911 of the aircraft on the ice: http://www.flickr.com/photos/statelibraryofnsw/2866625141/ [flickr.com] (other commenter's have already mentioned how the aircraft came to be wingless).

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