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Our 12 hour scenic flight over Antarctica began in Melbourne, Australia in the evening of New Year's Eve 2010. The photographs were taken out of the window of a Boeing 747 flying at 10,000 feet above sea level, or higher over land as necessary, between 10:30 PM and 1:30 AM under the Antarctic summer sun that never sets. The massive scale of this spectacle is hardly conveyed by the pictures, and can perhaps be best appreciated in comparison to the size of the French research station at Dumont d'Urville and its buildings (third photo gallery, below).

Iceberg In the waters around Antarctica float an enormous number of icebergs and pieces of sea ice. The icebergs were formed on land and have broken off into the sea. They gleam white towering above the water and are blue below the surface. Sea ice is sea water that has frozen and generally appears as flat sheets cracked and broken into what seems like a million pieces, large and small.

The Antarctic continent is twice the size of Australia and its desolate and seemingly endless icecap extends to the horizon and beyond. The icecap features massive sheets of ice that end abruptly at the water's edge, crevasse-covered glaciers, and mountainous areas. Everywhere there is snow and ice, with only little bits of rocky terrain visible.

Antarctic Mountain Range

French research station at Dumont d'Urville Within the vast uninhabited and empty landscape, there are a few outposts where people live year round. We flew over the active French research station at Dumont d'Urville. Situated on a coastal rock outcropping near the foot of a glacier, the station is not far from floating icebergs and sea ice. It features an abandoned airstrip.

As you can imagine, a sightseeing flight on New Year's Eve is far from the normal air travel experience. There was quite a party atmosphere, starting before departure at the gate and throughout the flight. Here are some pictures of the event.

Quantas Flight Sign

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All photographs taken in Antarctica are Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Barth, All Rights Reserved.