In 1956, an R4D (named Que Sera Sera) landed at the South Pole and became the first expedition to stand at that spot since Captain Scott of the Royal Navy reached it in 1912. The Lucky Seven crew were also the first Americans to set foot on the South Pole.
Trying to take off, the Que Sera Sera remained stuck in the ice and snow with the engines at full power. They had JATO rockets for jet-assist take-off and were usually fired after the plane hit 30 knots, but to break loose, the pilot fired four JATO bottles. That did the trick, but then he was worried about having enough JATO left to get airborne. The altitude on the ice cap is 10,000 feet, so the air is thin, meaning less oxygen for the engines and lift for the wings. But it made it and it now hangs in Hanger Bay One at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
August 30th, 2013
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