Thursday, November 6th, 2008

It is finally happening. We are getting flights! The very first LC-130 of the season just landed. It carried a bunch of firefighters and our ARFF vehicle, both now a requirement for any passenger flights.

The first LC-130 of the season


Open for Business

Monday, October 27th, 2008

After a few days of weather delays we received the first plane load of passengers. Most of them were seasoned veterans who, along with the FNGs, received the typical warm South Pole welcome right on the flight deck.

Here they come



Monday, October 27th, 2008

The crews of the Kenn Borek Basler and Twin Otter were nice enough to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables in Chile. It was great to shock the system with some vitamins after eight months. We had grilled pineapple for dinner, with tomato and avocado salad and fresh oranges and apples for desert, washed down by a Gin tonic with fresh lime.

Fresh oranges from Chile


First Aircraft Landing of the Season

Friday, October 24th, 2008

A few minutes ago a Basler made the first landing of the 2008/2009 season, bringing our winter officially to a close. The flight had been delayed by bad weather at Rothera Station. When the weather cleared up enough around 1am they decided to go for it. It is a beautiful day down here and the temperature was just above the cutoff of -54°C. They touched down shortly after 8am and took off for McMurdo after a very brief fuel stop. We expect to see them again with 16 passengers tomorrow.

Kenn Borek Basler in the fuel pit


Basler Crash

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007
The Basler touches down at the South Pole
The Kenn Borek operated Basler has crashed shortly after takeoff from Mt. Patterson in West Antarctica on December 20. None of the six researchers and four crew on board where injured, but the plane was seriously damaged and won’t be flying anytime soon, according to a NSF press release

Photos of the crashed Basler and an eyewitness account can be found on Mitchell’s blog.

South Pole From The Air II

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Following yesterday’s post, here is part two of our aerial photography mission.

This set of images takes a closer look at the Dark Sector, where all the telescopes are located. There is SPT, which just had its first successful season, BICEP, which will go into its third and last season, and QUAD, which will finish its last season in a few weeks. The AST/RO telescope was decommissioned at the end of 2005, but the building is still around. The ground shield of the decommissioned VIPER telescope can also be seen. Since all of the IceCube detectors are in the ice, the only things that can be seen is the building housing the readout electronics (ICL) and some of the drillcamp buildings, already positioned for the upcoming season.

South Pole From The Air

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

The NSF schedules aerial photography missions at the beginning and end of the Summer season. The pictures are a valuable planning tool and make for a great historical record. This time it was my turn to go up. A great belated birthday present. I have dabbled in kite aerial photography before, but this seems to be a much simpler approach :-)


South Pole is Open for Business

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Yesterday the weather looked favorable here and in McMurdo and it was decided that the Basler would bring in the first 15 summer workers. After takeoff the visibility at the Pole decreased below the required minimum and it looked like the flight could wind up as a boomerang. Luck was on our side and shortly before the landing the visibility improved once again and the Basler could land save and sound.

Summer Folks Arrive: South Pole Is Open For Business
The welcome committee awaiting the Basler. Parking hte Basler The Basler parked in the fuel pit.
Click on an image to launch the gallery (8 pictures)

It was great to see some old friends returning and sad two see two of our fellow winter-overs leave on the same plane. Both had decided to leave on the first flight due to family reasons.

With only 15 people arriving, instead of the usual Herc load of more than 50, it was a pretty mellow affair and we had a good time chatting with old friends and enjoying the fresh fruit and vegetables that came with them.

First order of business was getting a flu shot. There is already a flu outbreak in McMurdo and we have only shots for one of the two strains that are going around. Due to our travel patterns we always have to deal with both the Northern and Southern hemisphere strains. Having immunization for one strain is better than none and who wants to get sick after getting out of here?

Bad Weather Delay

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

After the Twin Otter arrived the wind picked up again and with it the visibility went down. They haven’t been able to leave and the Basler has yet to come back with the Summer folks.

Sven and Claire replace some of the skiway flags.

What do you do in such a case? The Twin Otter pilots helped out in the galley and the rest of the Station just has a little extra time for opening preparations. On my way back from work I ran into Sven and Claire, who were fixing some of the ski way flags.

First New Faces after Eight Months

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Yesterday, at 3:20pm, almost eight months after the last airplane left, the Kenn Borek operated Basler touched down at the South Pole, followed two hours later by a Twin Otter. They made the long trip from Canada, all the way down the Americas to Punta Arenas, at the Southern Tip of Chile. From there on to Rothera Station, on the Antarctic peninsula, before continuing to the South Pole.

First Flights of the Season
The Basler touches down at the South Pole The Basler parked for refueling. Moving on to McMurdo.
Click on an image to launch the gallery (4 pictures)

The Twin Otter stayed over night, but the Basler was on the ground only long enough to refuel and to give us some fruit and vegetables the crew brought from Punta Arenas. These Canadians are always so nice.