"GABRIEL GONZALEZ VIDELA"

- CHILE AIR FORCE ANTARCTIC BASE

Gabriel González Videla Antarctic Base and Waterboat Point

Gabriel González Videla Base is situated on the Antarctic Peninsula at Paradise Bay. It is named after the Chilean President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla (Shown at right) who in the 1940's became the first chief of state of any nation to visit Antarctica. The station was very active from 1951-58 but in recent years it has been operated by the Chilean Air Force as a summer only base.

On the North edge of the station there is a sign identifying Waterboat Point as an official historic site under the Antarctic Treaty. This was the place where the smallest ever wintering-over party (two men) spent a year in 1921-1922. The two men, Thomas Bagshawe and M. C. Lester, had been part of the British Imperial Expedition, which was abandoned. Nevertheless, they stayed over for the winter and made their shelter under an old whaling boat they found on the site. During this time, Bagshawe wrote the first scientific study of penguin breeding development and today the base is still surrounded by a breeding colony of Gentoo Penguins.

Chile President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla.

 

2007 ROYAL VISIT

On January 20th 2007, Princess Anne who is Patron of the UK based Antarctic Heritage Trust arrived on board H.M.S. "Endurance" to visit Gabriel Gonzalez Videla Base and unveil a commemorative plaque at the Historic Waterboat Point (Antarctic Historic Site no 56). Accompanying the princess were her husband, Rear Adm. Timothy Laurence of the British Royal Navy; Jane Rumble of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Philippa Foster Back, chair of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust; Capt. Nick Lambert of the Endurance; the helicopter crew and a Royal Navy photographer.

Commemorative Plaque unveiled by Princess Anne 20th January, 2007

Princess Anne (centre right) unveiling new plaque at Waterboat Point.

 

56TH ANNIVERSARY OF BASE FOUNDING

In the 2006-07 season, the Chilean Air Force has worked hard to upgrade the base. They have opened a Museum as well as restoring and documenting the historic Waterboat Point site as well as having a general base spruce up. The Cruise liner "Marco Polo" visited in early March while on the 12th of March the Chilean vessel "Australis" called to help commemorate the 56th anniversary of the opening of the Base. A special pictorial postmark was put into use for one day only.

This picture shows the Anniversary celebrations

 

VIDELA 1.  2007 (March 12th) Priority Airmail envelope from Gabriel Gonzalez Videla Base with pictorial datestamp  Price US$8

Note: the above envelope has been postmarked with the scarce one day only pictorial postmark issued to celebrate the 56th Anniversary of the founding of the base itself.

 

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