Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Being reunited with Ernest & Co-piloting the Shackleton Mountains

Its been all go here on base since the arrival of more and more flights, bringing an entourage of helpers on hand to aid relief, from all manner of technical service guys to RAF mast specialists to scientists to vehicle mechanics and field assistants to two other chefs aiding the 24hr food required to feed the ever increasing mouths on base. After careful scouring of the Brunt shelf, for a suitable relief site for both ships, with added requirements for suitable shelf height and sea ice thickness. The route to creek 4, which is 12Km North away from base to the edge of the ice shelf, has been groomed and flagged. With an epic day of ramp dozing from the shelf edge onto the sea ice, ensuring a safe entry and exit point for the cargo, from the sea ice onto the shelf. The bets are on, as to when the Shackleton will materialise along side the 3-5 metre thick sea ice.

It was an exciting time for me, travelling down on the back of a sledge being pulled by a Challenger to Creek 4, and being reunited with Ernest, which arrived on 20th Dec. at 4.00pm. Seeing her for the first time, since leaving me here 10 months ago - what a bizarre feeling, remembering her bright red paint work, the galley which i spent so much of my time in, the rooms, and also, taking advantage of having a shower with no limits and a sauna - what a luxury.

The cliffs at Creek 4 and my first sighting of Ernest.

The man made, dozed ramp, enabling access to and from the sea ice.

View of the ramp from the sea ice.

Snow Petrols flying above Creek 4.

Ernest moored up alongside the sea ice.

View of the sea ice and cliffs, taken from the Monkey Island on Ernest.

A small proportion of surface cargo, on board Ernest.

21st Dec, 07

One of the perks for the summer is the chance of co-piloting in the De Havilland dhc6 Twin Otter, VP-FBL, and it just so happened my chance was the very next day. A trip to the Shackleton Mountains at A80 and at A77, (A is the name and the number is the degrees south), where LPM's are buried (low powered Magnetometers), which measure the earths magnetic field, and help detect solar flairs that may knockout our satellites or potentially enter our atmosphere, causing disastrous harm to our Earth.
The reason for co-pilots, is because the pilots aren't allowed to fly on their own, just in case anything goes wrong, in the air or on the ground.

Richard and Chad (the air mech) refueling the Twin Otter with Avtur (205 litre drums of Aviation fuel, weighing 410lbs each), at Halley International Airport (skiway).

Inside the Twin Otter, with full fuel drums strapped in at the back, to be dropped off at A80, to replace the ones used in previous flights.

The first sightings of the Shackleton Mountains at (S 80* 53.270 / W 022* 15.590), were from the aircraft at 9000 ft, but when we landed on the ice, we were still at 3,860 ft above sea level, which is a good indication, as to the thickness of the ice there.

Shackleton Mountain ranges.

The Twin Otter coming into land, at A80.

Fuel drums at A80, with the Shackleton's in the background.

Mark Beasley, the Otter Pilot flying me over the Shackleton's.

The Shackleton's peaking out of an Antarctic dessert plateau.

Me co-piloting.

Coming into land at A77.

A refueling stop at A77, (S 77* 31.400 / W 023* 25.090), at 5200 ft above sea level, where there are more LPM's.

Me and Mark digging the Avtur fuel drums out of A77.

Loading the empties on board for recycling.

Part of the Hinge Zone, on the Brunt Ice Shelf, where ice glides off of the continent onto the shelf, creating a hinge that stretches wright across the Brunt Ice Shelf.

Part of the Rumples and coast.

Flying towards the creeks and Halley

The creeks clearly visible and the Ernest Shackleton moored up alongside the sea ice, at creek 4.

Ernest moored up and ready for another relief, with a Snowcat and sledges awaiting cargo.

Halley, just to the right of Ernest on the horizon.

Coming into land at Halley Research Station, after our 697 km round trip.

Chad, me and Mark, relieved with another successful flight and landing - pheewwwwwww!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Big Possum,

What neat photo's