NFSA title: 7378
Building on earlier Antarctic discoveries Sir Douglas Mawson led two British, Australian, New Zealand Antarctic Research Expeditions (BANZARE) between 1929 and 1931. These expeditions were conducted using the British research ship ‘Discovery’ equipped with a Gypsy Moth seaplane (VH-ULD). Two 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 due to things such as fog, floating ice or a rough sea.
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 BANZARE expedition of 1930/31. It shows Sir Douglas Mawson and Pilot Officer Eric Douglas in the Gypsy Moth being lowered from the side of the 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 being almost flung out of the plane into the icy water.
Alongside scientific research over two Antarctic summers the expedition discovered, mapped and claimed possession of land that would later form the Australian Antarctic Territory.