VIDEO: When James Bond Meets Grizzly Adams on Skis [Dispatches from Antarctica]

This is the twentieth entry in the Armed with Science series, Dispatches from Antarctica. The series features Air Force Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan’s first-hand experiences on OPERATION: DEEP FREEZE, the Defense Department’s support of National Science Foundation research in Antarctica.

16 October 2010, McMurdo Station, Antarctica: The Baslers arrive

What is a Basler? Think Antarctic retro a la Casablanca. Think James Bond meets Grizzly Adams. Think of a twin-propeller driven DC-3 from a bygone era retrofitted with modern engines and avionics. And just to make it really awesome…put it all on skis.

Baslers are decidedly cool. Any company that wants to promote rugged, classy watches, or explorer sun-goggles, or expedition class jackets, should get a Basler for their photo shoots. The only thing I don’t like about the Basler is that I’m not flying it.

Kenn Borek Air, Ltd, out of Canada, operates the DC-3T Baslers for the US Antarctic Program under contract.

Two U.S. Antarctic Program Basler BT-67 ski-equipped aircraft at McMurdo’s Seasonal Ice Runway (Photo: Nate Peerbolt/US Antarctic Program)

Two U.S. Antarctic Program Basler BT-67 ski-equipped aircraft at McMurdo’s Seasonal Ice Runway (Photo: Nate Peerbolt/US Antarctic Program)

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  • Aaron Silvers (@mrch0mp3rs)

    Beautiful. And it looks freaking cold.

    • Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan

      You’ve accurately summed up the experience here. This is the place where “really cool” merges with freaking cold.

  • Spokane Rob

    I love it! Sometimes technology doesn’t beat good ol fashion know how. I was wondering, do they try those vertical takeoff planes down there in the cold?

    • Lt. Col. Vaughan

      Great question. If you’re referring to the AV-8B Harrier II, flown by the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy, the answer is no, for two primary reasons.The Harrier is a combat attack and close air support aircraft. Such military-purposed aircraft and other related systems are prohibited for use in Antarctica by Article I of the Antarctic Treaty. Under the treaty, to which the U.S. is a signatory, nations may use military personnel and equipment only for scientific research and other peaceful purposes. As the government’s lead agency for the USAP, the National Science Foundation determines which military logistics capabilities, if, are required to support U.S. science efforts in Antarctica. Additionally, as an attack plane, the Harrier has no passenger capacity. Nor does it have the capability for supporting science cargo. Therefore, the Harrier’s utility to the USAP, aside from treaty prohibitions, is virtually nil. The USAP does require vertical lift capability and accomplishes this through a robust civilian helicopter flying program. The NSF presently contracts with the company PHI out of Lafayette, LA for helicopter support. Keep tuning in to the Dispatches for a segment featuring these Antarctic helicopters.

  • Catching Crabs

    Beautiful. And it looks freaking cold.

  • Lenterak

    wonderfull, amazing…
    I love the videos