TEA Banner
TEA Navbar

21 August, 2003

Antarctica Bound

Today I hear no knock on the hotel door, it is 3 am, and our flight is on. Conditions are good at McMurdo, stage 3. Arriving at the International Antarctic Centre, we quickly dress and pack our gear. Then, just like any other airport, we wait in line and go through security, they check our passports, and a drug sniffing dog is wise too our bags. Then it is into the C17. This plane is based out of McChord AFB in Tacoma Washington; the crew is very professional and gets us loaded in short order. They have outfitted the plane for the first time with airline seats in the middle; it is pretty scrunched up as we have all our gear with us. The veterans of previous flights know the ropes, they get the side seats and they are wearing street clothes instead of all the issued gear. The rear of this plane is a giant elevator that can lift huge amounts of cargo and store it quickly. The load master is in charge of this. This is a jet propelled craft scheduled for a five hour flight. There are only two small windows to see outside, the latrine in the back is for the guys, the women get a real restroom in the front. Above me I see all the safety gear in case of a water crash, two lifeboats and escape hatch. The plane takes off and it is a smooth ride all the way. We arrive at Pegasus field on wheels exactly five hours later.

It is rather dark, but still quite clear at 4pm; the base here is on New Zealand time. We are greeted by the "winter-overs", they are excited to see old friends and have new people after being here for six months or more. They are extremely happy to have fresh fruit and milk, this is worth more than gold. The scenery is stunning, the sun reflects off the Transantarctic Mountains while a red glow fills the sky.

We are shuttled to McMurdo across the frozen sea ice, it is a real dirty looking camp of misfit buildings on a hillside. It is cold. Minus 30 degrees Celsius, really not bad for a quick jaunt but nasty for long periods of time. We gather in the cafeteria, are debriefed and then go off to our dorm rooms. It all feels like a nice ski lodge. I am looking forward to going skiing later.

Later, we have dinner and then go to the Crary lab, a very large science facility. I spent the evening learning about Lidar measurements of polar stratospheric clouds in Paola's lab. It has been a good 18 hour day. I am in awe of the first explorers Scott, Amundsen and Shackelton for their incredible determination and bravery.

The C17 Loading

Inside of the C17

The load master.

An Antarctic glacier seen from the air

The cockpit of the C17

Exiting the C17

Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.