I had applied for a South Pole position as the station's Satellite Communication's Engineer. Two weeks later I was in Denver undergoing a psychological exam for Antarctic winterovers. Most of my medical and dental physical qualifying took place in McMurdo and Christchurch. A few days before Christmas I received word that I had physically qualified for the South Pole winter position.
My family flew to California for the Christmas holiday and we all were sick when we arrived home on New Year's Eve. It took over 2 weeks to recover from the flu but there was really no time to rest as there was much packing to accomplish. All of a sudden I was packed and flying west on January 11th. 31 hours later I was back in Christchurch and two days later in McMurdo. The six weeks that I was home were spent unpacking from the ice and bike trips. And then it was time to pack again.
I had never been on a ski equipped C-130 Hercules. It was quite an adventure flying the 8 hours in this turbo prop plane. It was very noisy with heavy vibration. My noise canceling headphones made it bearable. Other than that is was a pretty smooth and comfortable ride. The landing with the skids was exciting since the runway is very mushy. In fact the C-17s are not making cargo runs since the runway is in such poor shape from the warm Antarctic summer.
We were scheduled to leave for the South Pole this morning but the weather made a turn for the worse today. And since there is no flying on Sundays the next attempt will be Monday. McMurdo isn't a bad place to be stuck! It is fun seeing old faces. Several of my winterover friends from last year stayed for the summer. Since tomorrow is Sunday there is much hiking if the weather cooperates.
|Holding over 400 people the Airbus 380 is the largest passenger plane in the world and loads on two levels.|
|Gathering my extreme cold weather gear at the USAP's Clothing Distribution Center.|
|Back in Speight's country!|
|Looking forward to my new home for the next 10 months.|
|Inside the C-130 looking aft.|
|The men's urinal. A parachute material drape affords a little privacy.|
|The Southern Ocean as seen from my window.|
|Looking aft at the ramp. The plane carried several pallets of supplies and our luggage.|
|My first view of Antarctica!|
|The landing was exciting - on skis!|
|Mike is back on the ice! The shelf ice here is 100 meters thick and the ocean bottom 1000 meters down.|
|Check out the skis/skids.|
|Our "Magic Carpet" ride! The ice is so mushy here that a non-tracked vehicle such as Ivan the Terra bus will not operate. Instead a giant tractor drags a sheet of steel on which Ivan is towed!|
|We were scheduled to fly to the South Pole this morning along with John Key, New Zealand's Prime Minister.|
|My seat on the C-130. The webbing was pretty comfortable and there was plenty of room to walk around and stretch.|
|The C-130 in action with Mt. Discovery in the background.|
|Another snowing and blowing day in McMurdo.|