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The Secret Land is a 1948 American documentary film about an American expedition code-named “Operation High Jump” to explore Antarctica. It won the Academy Award for Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Operation Highjump (OpHjp), officially titled The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program, 1946-1947, was a United States Navy operation organized by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd Jr., USN (Ret), Officer in Charge, Task Force 68, and led by Rear Admiral Richard H. Cruzen, USN, Commanding Officer, Task Force 68. Operation Highjump commenced 26 August 1946 and ended in late February 1947. Task Force 68 included 4,700 men, 13 ships, and multiple aircraft. The primary mission of Operation Highjump was to establish the Antarctic research base Little America IV. The Western Group of ships reached the Marquesas Islands on December 12, 1946, whereupon the Henderson and Cacapon set up weather monitoring stations. By the 24th, the Currituck had begun launching aircraft on reconnaissance missions.
The Eastern Group of ships reached Peter I Island in late December 1946.
On January 1, 1947, LCDR Thompson and Chief Petty Officer Dixon utilized “Jack Browne” masks and DESCO Oxygen rebreathers to log the first dive by Americans under the Antarctic. Paul Allman Siple, PhD was the senior U.S. War Department representative on the expedition. Dr. Siple was the same Eagle Scout who accompanied Admiral Byrd on the previous Byrd Antarctic expeditions.
On December 30, 1946, aviation radiomen Wendell K. Hendersin, Fredrick W. Williams, and Ensign Maxwell A. Lopez were killed when their PBM Mariner George 1 crashed during a blizzard. The surviving six crewmembers, including Aviation Radioman James H. Robbins and co-pilot William Kearns, were rescued 13 days later. A plaque was later erected at the McMurdo Station research base, honoring the three killed crewmen.
In December 2004, an attempt was made to locate the remains of the plane. There are ongoing efforts to repatriate the bodies of the three men killed in the crash. Killed airman Maxwell A. Lopez had a mountain named in his honour after his death, Mount Lopez on Thurston Island.
Additionally, Vance N. Woodall died during a “ship unloading accident” sometime after December 30, 1946. In a crew profile, deckman Edward Beardsley described his worst memory as “when Seaman Vance Woodall died on the Ross Ice Shelf under a piece of roller equipment designed to “pave” the ice to build an airstrip.”
Father William Menster served as chaplain during the expedition, and in a service in 1947 he consecrated Antarctica.
The Central Group of ships reached the Bay of Whales on January 15, 1947, where they constructed temporary runways along the glaciers, in a base dubbed Little America IV.
Naval ships and personnel were withdrawn back to the United States in late February 1947 and the expedition was terminated, due to the early approach of winter and worsening weather conditions.
After the operation ended, a follow-up Operation Windmill returned to the area, in order to provide ground-truthing to the aerial photography of Highjump.
A highly controversial German documentary: UFO – Technology Secrets and the Third Reich. suggests at the end of the hour-long film, that the real reason for the High Jump expedition was to seek out a secret German UFO station still operating in the Antarctic.
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
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