Monday, October 28, 2013

More South Pole Spring pictures and it's almost time for redeployment

It's hard to believe but I am almost done with another Antarctic winter! It has certainly been a long deployment. The time seemed to drag until mid-winter then it flew by.

A good view of my three work areas along with tall shadows this time of year.

The Beer Can shining bright.

The galley is to the right of the beer can.

My room is on the 2nd level far left. I have a really good view of the polar plateau from there.

One of the Twin Otters returned with four passengers in and five out along with a case of fresh eggs. 

What a treat!

The station sign sneaking a peak.
Time is getting short! Three boxes ready to mail home. All my stuff seemed to multiply.

On my way to the Post Office. This reminds me of the old saying "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds".

Sledging to the post office South Pole style! The rope up front is slipped around the body and off you go. Robert Scott and his men achieved the South Pole over 100 years ago using this method. Is this how Santa Claus got started? 

My three boxes were placed in a tri-wall (triple wall) box for air shipment to San Francisco. U.S. Antarctic stations utilizes the A.P.O. (Army Post Office) military delivery address. From there it will be trucked to Florida. Cost = $134.19. Well worth it considering the alternative of dragging it through airports half way around the world.

The South Pole Post Office in action.
The South Pole International PAX (passenger) Terminal has been dragged out of storage. The little orange posts are for tying your penguins to.

The South Pole terminal is designated NPX. Why not SPX as in South Pole? NPX originated as the U.S. Navy radio call sign back in the days of Operation Deep Freeze 1956.

The entire 12,500 foot skiway is now groomed.
At the end of the skiway. Beyond here is known as "The End of the World".

It's a long way back to the station.
A short video of jogging at the South Pole.

Sastrugi art...

in front of GOES.

The cargo berms are piled in drifting snow.

At the beginning of winter the doc and I flagged these cargo berms so that they could be found after winter.

Drilling a hole for a bamboo flag. Hard work in the solid ice.
These Quonset huts are almost buried.
Snow being pushed around below my room.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kenn Borek Airlines Basler BT-67

Another Kenn Borek Airlines plane from Calgary, Canada landed at the Pole for refueling. The Basler cruises at 195 knots, with a range of over 2,000 miles. It carries 18+ passengers. The crew brought in more fresh fruit and vegetables. This week I am living large with two bananas, an orange, and fresh squash in my salad.

Another Arctic aircraft is the Basler BT-67. This aircraft is built on a retrofitted Douglas DC-3 airframe.

Its configuration makes the Basler suitable for long distance operations between Antarctic destinations and flies with a crew of four.

This "taildragger" is used by the Australian Antarctic Program.

A retractable wheeled ski equipped undercarriage with an aerosurface for more lift.

A very interesting configuration.

Indiana Jones flies a DC-3!

The Basler rear wheel is not boarded so it digs quite a path into the ice.

Video of Basler South Pole landing.

After a 4 day weather delay at the South Pole the Basler finally taxis to the skiway for a flight to McMurdo.

The heat from the engine exhaust creates a fog. 

I talked with one of the crew members. This has been their longest transit yet at 3 weeks. A normal deployment from Calgary to McMurdo is 8 days. He said it is an exciting trip but weather delays can make it rather brutal.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kenn Borek Airlines de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters

October 5, 2013. Two Twin Otters arrived from Calgary, Canada. They are contracted out by the NSF to provide air service around the continent between the main stations and many science camps. From Canada they travel to Texas, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile, and Punta Arenas, Argentina. They refuel and overnight at each of these stops. With two added cans of fuel onboard they have a flying range of 12 hours, at 140-150 knots, and an altitude of 12,000 feet. I talked with one of the pilots who said the trip and view is fantastic. There are two pilots along with a mechanic on each plane.

They then cross over Cape Horn and the Drake Passage before landing at Rothera Research Station, which is a British Antarctic Survey Base. From there it is a refueling stop at the South Pole. Due to inclement weather in McMurdo they spent the night.

After I arrived here in early January a Twin Otter left the South Pole headed to an Italian Base in Antarctica's Terra Nova Bay. The plane crashed into the summit of a steep mountain range. After several days the plane was found but there were no survivors. An attempt to recover the bodies may be made this summer.

Rothera Research Station

There is a world out there! The first plane since station closing.

They brought freshies! Bananas, apples, and kiwi.

A fine sight! Two Twin Otters on deck!

To most of you this may seem like nothing. But this half a banana I selected was great.

Two Twin Otters flew in from Rothera, Antarctic Peninsula. The peninsula is south of South America.

A fine plane purpose built for extremely cold weather. During the Antarctic winter they work in the Arctic.

There is a concrete runway at Rothera. Before leaving there the wheels are removed and wheel-skis are installed. Five miles out of Rothera the Otter lands on top of a flat mountaintop. There the wheel-skis are removed and these board skis are installed for the South Pole and beyond.

They carry a lot of equipment and supplies down from Canada. This Otter will be contracted out to the Australian Antarctic Program.

Kenn Borek also contracts out to various Antarctic tourist agencies.

The Otter is plugged in and heated.

This Otter is contracted to the USAP.

The ski tracks leading to the Otter apron.
Twin Otter McMurdo bound October 7th.

The 2nd Otter leaving. In this video you can see ice crystals in the air. It really doesn't snow here but it sparkles.