Monday, December 27, 2010

Homeward Bound!

Ironically, I am sitting semi-trapped at home in North Carolina with remnants of a snowstorm outside so I thought it would be a good time to get some of the final South Pole pictures posted on the blog.  I'll probably have another couple of posts soon with some pictures taken out the windows of the LC-130, and some shots taken over the winter that did not get put up at the time  The following photos were taken during my last two days at the station and during the LC-130 flight to McMurdo.  Enjoy.

Home sweet home for the past nine and a half months.  Beautiful, isn't it.  This picture was taken on NOvember 4th, my last full day at the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station.  It was still too cold for planes to land so we were worried that the LC-130 aircraft scheduled to pick us up the next day, the first of the summer,  wouldn't make it.
BUT IT DID !!  It was still cold at -50F, right at the operating limit of the plane.  Visibility was very close to the minimum for the first flight but the pilot made a command decision and landed.  Visibility requirements for the first flight of the year are higher because it is a new ice runway.  The first flight must be able to see markers at three miles, while all the later flights have a lesser visibility requirement, one mile I think.
A bunch of us standing around. Some are waiting to get on the plane and some are saying good-bye to those leaving.. Look at those smiling faces.

More smiling faces.

My smiling face!

James Travis III, Maintenance Supervisor for the winter. James is crying because he doesn't get to leave on this plane.
Getting settled in the LC-130 before take-off. .It definitely isn't First Class, but were we ever glad to be there! L to R: David Holmes, Warren Lee, Virgil Porterfield, Genevieve Ellison.
All settled... waiting for the plane to start moving!
We're moving!  This is the Gang of Three, the maintenance folks over winter.  A great group of people.  L to R: Paul Smith, plumber; Shelby Handlin, general assistant; Kevin Berck, plumber.  These three, along with James Travis, Ricardo Lopez and David Holmes, kept the station running over the winter, sometimes in some very difficult circumstances. They cannot get too much praise from me.
L to R:  Boyd Brown, heavy equipment operator; Deborah Travis, food monkey extrordinaire; Emily Wilson, physician's assistant.
Francis Sheil, head chef
Virgil Porterfield, VMF supervisor; Genevieve Ellison, Waste, with a "startled chipmunk" look.  Genevieve, again, what waste category is dryer lint?
L to R: Chris Scadden, power plant; Cody Myer, chef; Boyd Brown, equipment operator.

L to R: Nick Morgan, Atmospheric Research Observatory; Mel MacMahon, station manager; Raul Salinas, chef. Raul is reading "Lone Survivor" - but wait, there are 47 of us!
Debra Kolmodin, engineering; Nick Morgan, ARO
Ricardo Lopez, maintenance
Jason McDonald, VMF (yes, he's under there).  Jason was the hardest working person at the station for the last month so he deserves to nap.  By the way, Jason drove to the Pole.
L to R: Genevieve Ellison,waste: and Sheri McKeen, logistics. Where did they get that candy!?
Warren Lee, galley staff and SP resident artist; Virgil Porterfield, VMF
A quick look outside the plane on the way to McMurdo.  I'll post more pictures of the Antarctic scenery  from the flight in a follow-up post.

And finally, the 2010 winterover picture now on the wall of the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station.  Deborah Travis took the group picture, Warren Lee designed the winterover patch under the photo, and David Holmes made the frame.  I designed the safety patch depicted on the award plaque (right) we received for having the first ever perfect safety record for a winterover crew.  Each winterover got a commemorative safety patch with the number of safe work days (274) , lowest winter temperature (-104F, actually -103.6 but who's counting?) and the size of the winterover crew  (47).


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