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Syracuse University Libraries

Maps and Cartographic resources: Antarctica - photos & aerial photography

Come to the Map Room and travel the world. The collection has cartographic and reference materials in a variety of formats that cover the entire Earth.

Air Photos of Antarctica

The Map Room contains roughly 35,500 aerial photos from 40 flight lines for the AAW and AAE portions of Operation Highjump. These photos were taken simultaneously in a series of vertical, left and right oblique. (see the example below). In total there were more than 70,000 aerial photos from 60 flight lines taken during this expedition in Antarctica in 1946/47. The photos from these flights were found to have inadequate ground control points and were deemed not satisfactory. This necessitated another expedition to Antarctica in 1947/48, nicknamed “Operation Windmill,” to perform and collect the ground survey information to make the Highjump aerial photos useful. The Map Room has over 1300 - 8x10” black& white photos of field equipment, personnel and scenery from “Operation Windmill” as well as air photos for the Bunger Lake project flown during “Windmill.”

Operation High Jump 1946/47

Task Force 68Operation Highjump logo

This mission charted most of the Antarctic coastline, some of which had never been seen before. Officially known as: The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program (1946-1947), code named: "Operation Highjump” The mission was sent to test equipment and troops in cold climates, claim land for the US, test and identify areas for establishing military bases, acquire scientific knowledge of the climate, geography, geology, meteorology of the continent.

Air Photo Indexes from Operation Hight Jump

Please refer to the main index as well as the individual sheet indexes for specific areas and flight lines.

Flight lines on each index sheet represent approximate locations of vertical, left and right oblique photography and flight lines marked in RED are not part of the Map Room's collection.

Operation Highjump airphoto index map

Individual Index Sheets for Operation High Jump

Flight lines have a 3 number code. "Run - Roll - Flight" and then a photo number. There are vertical as well as left and right oblique triples.

Below is a Left, Vertical, Right mosaic. If the top of the photo is the direction of flight and you are looking straight down through the bottom of the plane, then the horizons are in the far left and right of the photo.

A photographic example of a horizon to horizon airphoto mosaic, Antarctica 1948

Syracuse University's Connection

The United States Geological Survey's Geologist for Operation Windmill was Dr. Earl T. Apfel, Professor of Geology at Syracuse University from 1928 to 1958 and Chair of the Geology Department from 1945 to 1958. Dr. Apfel had taken a leave of absence to be a part of the Operation Windmill mission to Antarctica in 1947/48. These two photographic collections are now part of the air photo collection in the Map Room at the Syracuse University Libraries.

Operation Windmill 1947/48

Task Force 39Operation Windmill logo

The primary assignment of Operation Windmill was to secure ground control points for the aerial photography done during Operation Highjump. The objectives were to collect scientific information, conduct explorations east of the Ross Sea and near the Bunger Hills, ascertain the condition of Little America III, and to, again, test and train personnel and equipment under Antarctic conditions.

Operation Windmill mission images


Photograph of DC4 airplane buried in snow in Antarctica 1948

"Official Photograph U.S. Navy" : USN 622222 : Jan 31, 1948
R4D-5, aircraft, Base Camp, Little America (left after Operation Highjump 1946/47)



Photograph of snow covered mountains on the coast of Antarctica 1948

"Official Photograph U.S. Navy" : USN 620780 : Feb 21, 1948
Pictorial shot of Neny Island ... with two unnamed peaks at the far right.



Photograph of "Little America" research base in Antarctica 1948

"Official Photograph U.S. Navy" : USN 622565 : Jan 31, 1948
Vents sticking out of snow at West base, Little America. (buried in 20 feet of snow)



Photograph of penguins and a helicopter in Antarctica 1948

"Official Photograph U.S. Navy" : USN 922913 : Jan 14, 1948
Adalie penguins near HO3S-1, Bunger Lakes area.



Photograph of Scott's camp at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica 1948

"Official Photograph U.S. Navy" : USN 622920 : Jan 28, 1948
R.F. Scott's Camp at McMurdo Sound. Scott had 2 expeditions in Antarctica, one in 1902 and one in 1912. This camp was built in 1912. From here he made his historic march to and reaching the Pole on Jan 18, 1912. He and 3 companions died on the way back within 11 miles of the supply cache and survival. Note the Cross in left back.