The injured Davis Station chef was successfully airlifted to Hobart by a LC-130 aircraft. The crew at the station rushed to build a temporary 3000m sea ice runway. After flying from McMurdo the aircraft remained at Davis overnight before continuing on to Hobart.
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.
After 204 days of continuous operation the PLATeau Observatory (PLATO) at DOME A has lost power. During the winter PLATO was powered by one of two German built diesel generators, which now have apparently failed due to an exhaust leak. They use Hatz 1B30 engines. Coincidently, the smaller version of the Hatz 1B40, the engine that has been used in one of my favorite motorcycles.
PLATO has a number of instruments for site testing for astronomical telescopes at the future Chinese Dome A Station location. They look at the sub-mm spectral region, atmospheric turbulence in the first few tens of meters above the surface, and cloud cover. This will hopefully lead to an even better site than South Pole for the next generation of sub-mm telescopes.
We had a similar site testing program, run by some of the same scientist, here at the South Pole. It was originally powered by a propane generator, which failed in 1997 and filled the whole building with propane and shut the observatory down. It was as much an actual site test as a test of a remote observatory. Later one of the propane tanks developed a leak on one of the LC-130, which caused a bit of excitement too. During my first winter at the Pole the observatory was run off Station power, but it again failed and was shut down sometime during the winter.
Scientist are hopeful that PLATO will be able to generate power through its solar panels once the sun rises high enough.
Station closing came early this year. We were working out at DSL on the afternoon of the 13th when rumors started to make the rounds among the SPT crew that the Station would close early, due to poor weather approaching the Pole. One day can make a huge difference with the tight schedule at the South Pole and a mild panic set in among the beekers.
BICEP was in good shape. Cynthia and I just had to tighten a number of screws that had come lose on the telescope mount. We spent a few hours until 1 in the morning, doing a contortionist act around the telescope, before heading back to the Station for a quick celebration with some of the SPT folks.
All good things must come to an end. After spending the last two and a half months traveling around the world, I arrived back at the South Pole today. I immensely enjoyed my time off. The trip took me around the world with scuba diving stops in Fiji and the Philippines, a family visit in Germany and a couple of days of shopping in Hong Kong.
It was a very smooth ride to the Pole. Leaving Christchurch on a C-17 for McMurdo and jumping on an LC-130 the next day for the trip to the Pole. No delays at all, just enough time in McMurdo to catch up with some friends.
Just a few pictures from the trip home. One of the quickest rides out I ever had. Everything worked perfectly. I left Pole at 5pm on Saturday and arrived in Christchurch at noon on the next day.
Team BICEP has made it to the South Pole after a lengthy delay in McMurdo. These guys know what they are doing and we could have a very quick turnover. I had myself put on the last Saturday flight, assuming it would be delayed and we would have the whole day to work. It is a bit strange that the delays have become so frequent that I can actually use them in my favor.
Things worked out exactly as planned and I boarded an LC-130 at 5pm. Tomo took this picture of me walking to the plane. [tags]Antarctica, South Pole, LC-130, leaving[/tags]
Ann Curry and the Today Show team finally made it to the South Pole. Many of the winter-overs that got stuck here for more than a week blamed her for the long delay. Somehow she must have had some really bad karma. Finally, last night they came in for a little more than an hour, returning on the same plane on which they got here.
Just before going to bed I had a cup of team in the Gallery and people starting looking out the windows.
After a whole week without flights “departing” winter-overs are getting desperate at the South Pole. I am sure Father John and the Archbishop of New Zealand send a prayer every day, as they are just as desperate as everyone else to get out. So far to no avail. (more…)
No, I am not going crazy, I just keep finding goodies while I clean up files on my computer. This one is a video I took of the last flight that left South Pole before the Antarctic winter set in, way back in February.
The plane makes a really nice flyby to the cheers of the gathered crowd. Back then we where happy to see the last plane leave. Now we wouldn’t mind actually seeing one land again.