This past Sunday Scott Base celebrated its 50th Anniversary. As part of the celebration the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark and Sir Edmund Hillary came down for a visit. Hillary was part of the original Scott Base construction expedition in 1957 and was most recently on the ice in 2005. The Kiwis absolutely adore "Sir Ed" and made every accommodation to make his visit as comfortable as possible. This included constructing the "Hillary Step" which affords an easier ascent into the helicopters down here.
At 87, Sir Ed is not as agile as he used to be, but maintains his commitment to the NZ Antarctic Program and the preservation of Ross Island's historic huts. On this visit, speaking at Shackleton's Nimrod Hut at Cape Royds, he asked that the British Government offer more financial assistance towards protecting and preserving these monuments to Antarctic exploration. Currently the maintenance of these huts is headed by the New Zealand based Antarctic Heritage Trust.
Pilot Paul Murphy and I felt privileged to have such a living legend aboard our aircraft.
For those of you who are reading about the "Forgotten Men" of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party, here is a photo of the Aurora's anchor. Imagine the despair you'd feel to wake up and find no ship attached to this giant hook!