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 The air-tractor sledge

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PostSubject: The air-tractor sledge    Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:57 am

The air-tractor sledge was a converted fixed-wing aircraft taken on the 191114 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, the first plane to be taken to the Antarctic.[1] Expedition leader Douglas Mawson had planned to use the Vickers R.E.P. Type Monoplane as a reconnaissance and search and rescue tool, and to assist in publicity, but the aircraft crashed heavily during a test flight in Adelaide, Australia, only two months before Mawson's scheduled departure date. The plane was nevertheless sent south with the expedition, after having been stripped of its wings and metal sheathing from the fuselage. Engineer Frank Bickerton spent most of the 1912 winter working to convert it to a sledge, fashioning brakes from a pair of geological drills and a steering system from the plane's landing gear. It was first tested on 15 November 1912 and subsequently assisted in laying depots for the summer sledging parties, but its use during the expedition was minimal.
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