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Watch The Massive Boeing C-17 Globemaster III Lands On Ice…NBD!

C-17s Are the Largest and Heaviest Aircraft to Regularly Operate in Antarctica

Official Air Force photograph

Is there anything the mighty Globemaster can’t do?

Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III entered service with the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1995 after 14 years of development work. The airlifter replaced the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter and took some workload off Lockheed C-130 Hercules and C-5 Galaxy transports too. During their 22 years of service C-17s have delivered a whale to Iceland, been hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) in Iraq (and landed safely), carried pallets and paratroopers and tanks and patients and VIPs over millions of air miles to thousands of places on every continent. But one particular continent presents more of a challenge than the others- Antarctica.

Official Air Force photograph

C-17s tasked with supplying American scientists in Antarctica as part of Operation Deep Freeze usually stage out of Christchurch in New Zealand. Lockheed LC-130 Hercules transports are also used to resupply those “wintering over.” C-141s have landed there as well. Australian C-17s and contracted Airbus A319s land on the White Continent occasionally.

Over 500,000lbs of jet…landing on ice with the Sea below.  All that weight distributed through just 14 tires.

It isn’t unusual for a C-17 to land in Antarctica since the first successful winter resupply airdrop took place on December 20th 2006. However, provided a runway long enough can be smoothed off the ice, Globemasters are more than capable of operating from “austere” ice runways. They have also flown missions to Antarctica during winter. In the video, watch carefully how much the wings and engine pods flex as the airlifter lands and rolls past the camera and down the McMurdo Sea Ice Runway.  It’s a big plane.

Bonus video- Takeoff from the same ice runway.

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.