Seige of the South

Seige of the South
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As well as some stunning aerial views of Antarctica, the danger of Antarctic flying is illustrated in this clip filmed and narrated by Frank Hurley from the second British, Australian, New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) of 1930-31.

It shows Sir Douglas Mawson and Pilot Officer Eric Douglas in a Gypsy Moth seaplane (VH-ULD) being lowered from the side of the British research ship Discovery and taking off in a heavy swell. Returning over an ice-strewn sea, the aeroplane is hauled back up onto the deck of the Discovery when a line breaks, resulting in Mawson and the pilot almost being flung out of the plane into the icy water.

Two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) pilots were allocated to the expedition to fly the Gypsy Moth, which was used for reconnaissance flights to check what lay ahead of the Discovery and to examine places inaccessible to the ship. Flying could only occur when the weather was favourable although conditions could still be hazardous because of fog, floating ice or a rough sea.

Alongside scientific research over two Antarctic summers the expedition discovered, mapped and claimed possession of land that would later form the Australian Antarctic Territory.

The Gypsy Moth seaplane (VH-ULD) was sold to the Aero Club of Western Australia. It was used by the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War as a trainer and crashed near Geraldton, WA in 1942.