It happened mid December 2007 at 2130 PM Pole time. A mystery plane flew over the South Pole. Jill Fox and a bunch of other 'polies' were out camping away from station overnight, when they watched the plane fly overhead and Jill shot this image, enhanced by Glenn Grant. The picture was forwarded to ExWeb by Bill Spindler, and the photo details were provided by Carla Appel, the South Pole station. (Click to enlarge).
Plane over the South Pole: Mystery solved!

Posted: Dec 18, 2007 03:04 am EST
( edited Dec 18 6.60 pm EST) Dan Colborne, a pilot flying Australian aircraft, just emailed from the Casey Station at Antarctica with a press release explaining the recent ghost plane over the South Pole!

It was Qantas 21st century flagship shooting over the SP for the second time since November 2006 in the last demonstration tour of the A380 MSN007 with its current cabin. Here goes the press release:

Passengers gathered in the cockpit

"After a busy week of successful maturity and operability trials with Qantas in Sydney, the A380 left Australia's shores and continued its world tour with the 21st century flagship's first visit to Argentina and Brazil. Due to the time difference, the A380 MSN007 took off from Sydney on 8 December at noon and landed in Buenos Aires half an hour later the same day, local time, after more than 14 hours of flight."

"This trip's routing took the A380 over Tasmania, then over the South Pole, with a clear sky offering fantastic views of the ice float and Mount Erebus. It is not the first time the A380 has flown over the South Pole but for most passengers it was still a very exciting moment - and all those not sleeping gathered in the cockpit and around the engineers' station to watch the instruments indicate the passage."

Buenos Aires: Hundreds of people lined up to visit the aircraft

"The aircraft landed in its usual gentle manner in Buenos Aires where the airport firemen welcomed its first visit with the traditional water arc. Interest in the A380 remains high, and on the following day, hundreds of people lined up to visit the aircraft with great enthusiasm, taking endless photographs of the cabin and of one another while reporters interviewed the Airbus crew."

"Among the smaller number of privileged guests who boarded the aircraft for a local flight of 90 minutes were Gonzalo Pascual, the President of Grupo Marsans - which placed commitments for four A380s - as well a number of officials from airlines and the government. Even for those who had already had this pleasure, the experience of flying in the A380 was obviously a treat."

"From Buenos Aires, the A380 flew to Sao Paulo where a local flight was planned for the afternoon. Another warm welcome, more hundreds of visitors, more newspaper front pages and TV specials. From the local airport employee to the highest officials, everyone is keen to see the A380. This is the last stop before the aircraft returns to its home base. This mission is also the last demonstration tour of the A380 MSN007 with its current cabin. Shortly after its return to Toulouse the aircraft will go to the final assembly line where the cabin will be taken out and the aircraft will be entirely refurbished."

(Ed note: Story edited Dec 18 6.60 pm EST with details added to image caption)

In an earlier email yesterday, Dan already suspected that it was the new A380. "The Airbus factory colours bear a remarkable resemblance to the colours in the image," he wrote. "I highly doubt that this image shows a Russian IL76 (as used by ALCI) as the engines are not close enough together," we learned from the pilot.

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