This weekend in history: The first flight to the South Pole
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This weekend in history: The first flight to the South Pole

National Science Foundation
Office of Polar Programs
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Posted October 28, 2021

A plane reading United States Navy on a mostly flat area of snow and ice. An American flag and two people stand in the foreground to the side of the plane.
Photo Credit: John Swadener
Two of the three cameras brought to the South Pole froze when they arrived. Luckily, Lt. John Swadener had his camera tucked away in his parka, allowing him to capture the historic event.

65 years ago this weekend, the first plane landed at the South Pole, Antarctica!

Named for the popular song at the time, the Que Sera Sera was an R4D-5L (Douglas DC-3) flown by the U.S. Navy and arrived at the South Pole on October 31, 1956. The aircraft's crew were the first Americans to set foot on the pole and the first humans since Captain Robert F. Scott of the Royal Navy reached it in 1912.

The landing of Que Sera Sera in 1956 paved the way for future operations and construction of the South Pole Station.

Today, the U.S. Antarctic Program utilizes two main aircrafts, the LC-130H and BT-67, to transport researchers, support staff and supplies to South Pole Station, operated by Kenn Borek Air. Both planes have been modified with skis for landing on the Antarctic snow.