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Syracuse University Libraries

GEO 482/682 Environmental Remote Sensing (Spring 2022): Antarctica

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. 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. Currently there are no indexes for the AAE flights available.

Index map for Operation Highjump air photo coverage

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.

triple airphoto mosaic example

Antarctica coastline 1946

This is a series of right oblique photos from the 1946/7 aerial survey of the Antarctic coastline scanned and compiled into a stop-motion movie. Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy your flight.

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 Library.

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


DC-4 covered in snow

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



coastal mountains

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



Little America Station in Antarctica

"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)



penguins and helicopter

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



Scott's Camp at McMurdo Sound

"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.



USS Edisto off coast of Antarctica

"Official Photograph U.S. Navy" : USN 619762 : Jan 19, 1948
Showing the HO3S-1 from the USS Edisto flying over station #13. The USS Burton Island may be seen anchored a few yards off shore along the Knox Coast in Wlkes Land. Pilot of helicopter - Lt. Tracey, passengers were Comdr. E.C. Folger, C.O. USS Edisto and ChPhotog. Homer D. Ford.