Skip to Content

11 Mar 2024

A flying farewell

We recently said hello and goodbye to an iconic US Air Force aircraft about to be retired. The KC-10 and a crew of 30 is travelling the world ahead of fleet retirement to thank the nine airports it worked with – in our case, the only New Zealand airport and its link to Antarctica.

Our airport fire team welcomed the KC-10 with a water arch, an aviation honour usually reserved for inaugural arrivals. 

The aircraft spent little over a day on our tarmac, before departing for its next stop on the way to being decommissioned in coming months and eventually replaced by KC-46 aircraft.

John Coker was a crew chief on KC-10s from 1993 to 2000. He said the flying farewell crew was honoured by the water arch and that flying on the planes had been the “best time of my life. 100%”. 

Head of the Christchurch Antarctic Office, David Tayler, says Christchurch has collaborated with the United States Antarctic Programme for nearly 65 years. He says the collaboration is an enduring partnership which reflects a shared dedication to advancing scientific knowledge and addressing global challenges.