Pacific

John Kerry lands in Antarctica, highest US official to visit

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, third right, prepares to board U.S. Air Force C-17 flight to Antarctica at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.  The State Department said Friday that Kerry would travel from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 to the McMurdo research station on Antarctica's Ross Island and the South Pole. Kerry will be the first secretary of state and highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Antarctica. (Mark Ralston/Pool Photo via AP)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, third right, prepares to board U.S. Air Force C-17 flight to Antarctica at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. The State Department said Friday that Kerry would travel from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 to the McMurdo research station on Antarctica's Ross Island and the South Pole. Kerry will be the first secretary of state and highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Antarctica. (Mark Ralston/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, third left, prepares to board U.S. Air Force C-17 flight to Antarctica at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. The State Department said Friday that Kerry would travel from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 to the McMurdo research station on Antarctica's Ross Island and the South Pole. Kerry will be the first secretary of state and highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Antarctica. (Mark Ralston/Pool Photo via AP)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, third left, prepares to board U.S. Air Force C-17 flight to Antarctica at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. The State Department said Friday that Kerry would travel from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 to the McMurdo research station on Antarctica's Ross Island and the South Pole. Kerry will be the first secretary of state and highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Antarctica. (Mark Ralston/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, prepares to board U.S. Air Force C-17 flight to Antarctica at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.  The State Department said Friday that Kerry would travel from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 to the McMurdo research station on Antarctica's Ross Island and the South Pole. Kerry will be the first secretary of state and highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Antarctica. (Mark Ralston/Pool Photo via AP)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, prepares to board U.S. Air Force C-17 flight to Antarctica at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. The State Department said Friday that Kerry would travel from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 to the McMurdo research station on Antarctica's Ross Island and the South Pole. Kerry will be the first secretary of state and highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Antarctica. (Mark Ralston/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry became the highest-ranking American official to land in Antarctica for a two-day visit during which he'll hear from scientists about the impact of climate change on the frozen continent.

Kerry left Friday from New Zealand after being held up for about a day by bad weather. Kerry and his entourage left the Christchurch airport at 6 a.m. aboard a C-17 Globemaster military cargo plane and landed in Antarctica about 11 a.m.

Kerry is an experienced pilot.

He spent much of the flight in the cockpit of the huge jet, chatting with the pilots.

After a smooth trip of about five hours, the group landed on the Pegasus Ice Runway, the strip of ice that serves McMurdo. The base is the hub for U.S. operations.