R4D, C47, DC3, Dakota, Goony Bird, Skytrain, you name it! Here is one that made history as it was the first aircraft to land at the South Pole. It's ranking crewmember, Adm. Dufek exclaiming after an hour of glory and discovery, " Lets get the hell out of here "!


31 OCTOBER 1956
Seven Navy men landed in an R4D Skytrain on the ice at the South Pole--the first to stand at the spot since Capt. Robert F. Scott of the Royal Navy reached it in January 1912. The seven men were: Rear Admiral G. J. Dufek, CTF 43 and ComNavSupFor, Antarctica, Captain D. L. Cordiner, C.O., Air Development Squadron 6, Captain Wm. M. Hawkes, co-pilot, Lieutenant Commander C. S. Shinn, pilot, Lieutenant John Swadener, navigator, J. P. Strider, AD2, crew chief, and William Cumbie, AT2, radioman. The party remained at the pole for 49 minutes setting up navigational aids to assist the future delivery of materials and equipment for constructing a scientific observation station at the South Pole...

A Walk in the Sun by
Jim Waldron

This story is about a simple walk in the sun but in order to tell it 
properly I must discuss other related matters in considerable detail. I wish 
I didn't have to elaborate so but I feel telling the entire story is 
On October 31, 1956, the first landing ever to be made at the South Pole 
was about to happen. Rear Admiral George Dufek USN had chosen Lieutenant 
Commander Conrad "Gus" Shinn and his flight crew to attempt the landing, 
which was an extraordinary undertaking since the South Pole was almost 10,000 
feet above sea level where the aircraft engines of the R4D (C-47) aircraft 
would operate considerably below optimum power levels. In addition it was 
expected that supercold conditions could be expected on the surface. (This 
assumption proved correct for when the landing was made and the thermometer 
gauge read minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Before the Admiral and his aircraft would depart from the ice runway at 
McMurdo Air Facility, our aircraft with Lieutenant Commander Edward 
Frankiewicz as Aircraft Commander, had to be positioned at the foot of Liv 
Glacier about 400 miles inland from McMurdo Air Facility and halfway to the 
South Pole. There at Liv Glacier was a small facility where fuel was stored 
and weather observations could be made. Our aircraft and flight crew were 
directed to land and be ready to act as a rescue aircraft if the Admiral and 
his aircraft crashed or was incapacitated on the Pole. (It should be 
mentioned here that we came close to becoming a rescue aircraft because 
Lieutenant Commander Shinn's skis froze to the surface of the South Pole ice 
and he had extreme difficulty in getting unstuck and airborne.)
When we departed from NAF McMurdo for the flight to the foot of Liv 
Glacier it was a gloriously beautiful day with clear skies, endless 
visibility and gentle winds. After landing at the Liv Glacier location we 
found the temperature so cold that it was decided to keep the engines turning 
for fear that we would not be able to start them when they might be needed. 
We remained there on the ice surface for about 15 hours with the engines 
turning before we were finally released from our alert position and allowed 
to return to NAF McMurdo. Lieutenant Commander Frankiewicz, our Flight Crew 
Chief and I took turns sitting in the cockpit in order to monitor the gauges 
of the idling engines.
After we had been at the Liv Glacier facility a short while we received a 
radio message from NAF McMurdo that the Admiral's aircraft takeoff from 
McMurdo had been delayed as they waited for a better forecast of South Pole 
weather conditions. Our alert condition was temporarily reduced and we could 
then figure on a few hours of relaxation before we would be put on alert 
Eddie Frankiewicz approached me about this time and said that he would 
like to walk toward the mountains which seemed close enough that one could 
throw a rock and hit one. He asked if I would join him, saying our crew chief 
could keep the engines turning while we were away.
Since there is very little moisture in the air on the Antarctic ice 
fields objects at a distance seem a lot closer than they were. This was the 
situation at the foot of the Liv Glacier; the mountains were more than the 
short walk as we somehow thought.
As we walked toward the mountains the noise from the aircraft engines 
quickly diminished and soon we could only hear the rustle of our clothing and 
the sound of our flowing breaths. It is strange but I could also hear the 
blood flowing in my ears. The frozen surface of the ice field absorbed sound 
completely and if we stopped walking for a few moments there was an utter 
silence, except for our breathing and the blood flow to our ears.
I believe we had walked some thirty minutes before Eddie said that he 
though he should go back to the aircraft, that there mighty be radio messages 
coming in from NAF McMurdo about our pending alert condition. The surface 
where we were walking was firm and there was no indication that I might get 
into difficulty if I continued onward so Eddie started back and I pressed 
onward for a ways.
It is a strange feeling to be as alone as I felt when Eddie disappeared 
in the distance. There I was on a strange barren ice cap with nobody in sight 
and 400 miles from my home base. The mountains were beautifully outline ahead 
of me, but still appeared no closer than they had when I started the walk. 
There was no wind and everything was deadly still. It occurred to me that 
perhaps no man or woman had ever been at this spot before, however, I later 
discovered that Dr. Larry Gould, Ph.D., had made a geographic survey of the 
area in the 1930s. He told me that he was as impressed with the magnificence 
of the site there as I had been.
As I walked further toward the mountains the surface turned suddenly from 
powdery snow to clear ice, probably due to melting snow during previous 
summers. As I walked cautiously over the ice each step I made generated a 
small musical note. The ice was singing to me. I had never heard such sound 
before or since; it was as though I were pressing on the keys to the high 
notes of an organ.
Ahead there was a rise in the surface as a mound of solid rock rose above 
the ice. It was like a small island in the midst of that ice field. As I 
stepped on to the rocky island I noted that it contained a considerable 
number of rocks. I presume these rocks had been push down and polished by the 
nearby glacier. I filled my pockets with some of these rocks as a souvenir of 
my walk in the sun that beautiful day. Only one of these rocks remain in my 
possession today as I have given the rest away.
To myself I said, "I name this place Ruth Island" which was my wife's 
first name. I didn't think much of it at the time but when I mentioned it in 
a letter to home I found that my wife was greatly pleased about having her 
name added to a geographic feature in Antarctica. Of course the naming was 
between the two of us and was nothing official.
And so I started back to the aircraft and rejoined the operation that was 
about to start. We were not called on to make an attempt at a rescue that day 
and I am very happy about that for if the polar conditions were severe enough 
to stop one aircraft they most likely would have been severe enough to stop 
two aircraft.. 

Jim Waldron was an 'original issue' Naval Aviator in the Antarctic and VX6...

"Que Sera Sera, which was the first plane to land at the South Pole, used to be at the Navy Aviation Museum here in Pensacola and it was parked outside with a lot of large planes that were apparently too big, or not good enough to be put inside the museum. The last time I was at the museum, which was less then six months ago I did NOT IMI NOT see it anyplace. I have never seen an Otter there, but it could be stored some place else. Incidently, Conrad "Gus" Shinn who was the pilot of "Que Sera Sera" lives here in Pensacola.


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