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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bouvet Eiland

One wheel landing of a SA Air force Oryx
Photo by Tom van der Meulen, taken while "Lying on my stomach, hanging upside down out the door".
This photo showed up in the Flight Aware newsletter. At first I thought someone had overshot the runway and ended up hanging over the creek. Then I read the caption and realized this was a helicopter, and it's not really a landing, he's just touching down on this rock.

Oryx Helicopter off Cape Town, South Africa
I found this picture of the Oryx Helicopter on the South African Air Force 22 Squadron's website, where I also found this bit:
  • First helicopter landing on Bouvet Eiland in 1966.
What is a 'Bouvet Eiland'? Is this some kind of ship? No, it's an island, way off in the middle of the south, south Atlantic.

Bouvet Island
As you might expect, it's not much of a place, small and covered with ice.

Bouvet Island, southeast side, as seen at sunrise, eight miles distant. Black and white photograph coloured by hand. Photo taken on the German Valdivia expedition. 1898.
It's really remote:
  • 54.43 degrees South, 3.38 degrees West
  • 1,100 miles from the coast of Antarctica
  • 1,700 miles from Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2,600 miles from the southern tip of South America
  • 3,200 miles from Buenos Aires
Since most helicopters have only a short range, I think the helicopter that made the landing probably made most of the journey from South Africa carried on board a ship. The helicopter landing on Bouvet Eiland wasn't made with an Oryx. The landing occurred in 1966, the Oryx didn't fly until 20 years later.

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