Antarctica Dispatch

Journal of my Antarctic experience working to support the United States Antarctic Program.



I'm back in McMurdo, the great mining camp of Antarctica, although no mining occurs. Upon stepping out of the plane the first two things I noticed was the ease of breathing and the warmth, although it was only 20 F. We saw a C-17 out on the ice runway with the people who left the Pole on Saturday waiting to board. Too bad we couldn't join them and be back in Christchurch, NZ that night.

However, I was looking forward to seeing my old college chum Wade who came back to McMurdo during Winfly as an electrician. I also stopped in to visit with the McMurdo IT personnel and my possible future boss if I come back.

Well we're slated to leave here around 7 PM, which will make it a late night getting into Christchurch. I'm excited yet a little sad to be leaving.

Station Opening


It finally arrived! One other guy and myself shaved our beards as a means to 'rally' the planes here. I guess it worked because four planes touched down unloading personnel and taking away a few Winter Overs. I collected $10 on a bet that the planes would land today.

In retrospect it was 50 years ago when the first plane landed at the South Pole. At 8:34 PM the US Navy R4D Que Sera Sera 'skied to a halt atop the Antarctic ice sheet at 90 degrees South latitude. For more on that event and information on the south Pole station, click here.

Since the temperature was about -48 C, and the LC-130s leave their engines running to prevent them from freezing up, contrail form. With no visibility the mechanical loader operators cannot get to the rear of the plane to unload/load cargo. Instead a combat offload is done (pushing the pallets out the back while the plane is taxiing) to get the cargo off the plane.

It was strange seeing familiar faces returning for the summer as well as FNGs looking 'green' and clueless. Someone said, "We're no longer Winter Overs, we're now 'Left Overs'!"