Flying Pigs and Penguins at 51 Degrees South


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To get things between the 740 islands of the Falklands, a lot of flying is needed. Much of it is done by one of the four pilots in the Falkland Islands Government Air Service. Pilot Troyd Bowles delivers everything from tourists to remote lodges to farm animals to remote pastures to penguins to the vet—and sometimes all of those things somewhere at the same time. Such a delivery might require him to cover up a penguin's bottom with a bag to help prevent any stench from bothering tourists during a long flight.

He has the ability to fix just about anything on his plane, which comes in handy when his craft breaks down on any one of the 36 airstrips on the archipelago. He can land said plane on a tarmac (unlikely) or on grass (likely). In this quick profile from the Falkland Islands government, filmmakers Jamie Gallant and Vern Cummins, you learn a bit more about the niceties of his job.

Recently, the Falklands Islands have been in the news as Britain has supported a measure to explore oil reserves in the area. Britain claims the islands, as does Argentina—which lost a 1982 war for the archipelago it calls Las Malvinas. The natural resources claim, and any future exploration, will likely open up old wounds. It also may bring in noise and a response from conservation groups. The islands have some of the world's largest and most remote colonies of seabirds, penguins, and seals.

To learn more about the Falkland Islands, read Stephanie Pearson's Outside feature, “A Left Turn at the End of The World.”

—Joe Spring