In 1985, there was no practical way for a private traveler to reach Antarctica except by ship. The challenges of flying into the Antarctic were formidable. Distances from nearby continents were great, weather problems daunting, and fuel unavailable for private individuals.
Despite all the odds, in 1985, two Canadian mountaineers – Pat Morrow and Martyn Williams – joined with seasoned Antarctic pilot Giles Kershaw from Britain to plan and organize an ascent of Mount Vinson for a group intent on being the first to scale the “Seven Summits”, the highest peak on all seven continents. Having conquered the summit, the trio realized that the strategy they had developed to reach their goal could be used to assist others and Adventure Network International, the predecessor to ALE, was born.
More than 30 years later, ALE is the most experienced and capable private operator in the interior of Antarctica. We have carried thousands of passengers, using large aircraft operating out of Punta Arenas, Chile, to ice runways at Patriot Hills and Union Glacier. We have supported virtually every expedition that has crossed the continent on foot, by vehicle or by aircraft. We have supported major science projects and overland traverses. We continue to improve our services and logistic capability. We offer a range of Experiences that showcase the best of the icy continent and cater to every type of adventurer. And we continue our mission to set the highest possible environmental standards and to use best practices.
We opened up the heart of Antarctica to expeditions and established the first inland, blue-ice airfield in Antarctica. The idea of using blue-ice areas to land conventional aircraft had been around since the early 60’s, but was unproved until we landed a DC-4 at Patriot Hills in 1987. This ground-breaking achievement changed the face of Antarctic aviation and allowed us to fly direct from Chile to Antarctica, without the need for re-fueling stops along the way.
We came of age in the 1990s. Early exploration led to a well structured company, determined to have a light touch on the Antarctic environment. We expanded our range of guided experiences and services and continued to explore new blue-ice airfields and suitable aircraft for our operations.
A transition of ownership while expanding logistic capabilities to better support expeditions and scientific research and building a more comfortable base camp for our guests.
The next step was to find a more efficient way to fly passengers and cargo deep into Antarctica. The search for a better runway to support intercontinental flights was on.