Friday, August 3, 2012

There and Back Again...

My 2012 Antarctic season is beginning.  I received notice yesterday that I was approved for WinFly.  Back to Antarctica!  WinFly is short for "winter fly-in" and brings personnel into McMurdo Station from Christchurch, NZ to begin relieving the winter-over staff (who have been there all winter).  WinFly happens prior to the main station opening, when the majority of summer residents will arrive.  WinFly usually consists of about 150 people who help get the station ready to receive its full compliment of 1,500 about a month later by doing things like opening dorms and labs, turning on water and heat, and getting the ice runways ready for the main season activities.

Although I expected to be approved for my Antarctic deployment it is never a done deal until you actually pass the PQ process, which I did last week.  Because it was not a sure thing I decided to wait until I knew for sure before posting anything here.  So...

I have 20 days to get ready to leave for Antarctica this year.  I fly out of my home airport in NC on August 23 and spend the next 30 hours in transit to Christchurch.  My route is RDU - DFW - LAX - SYD - CHC.  I then get fitted for ECW gear* and leave for McMurdo the next day - another 5 or 6 hours of flying time in a U.S.Air Force C-17.  The plan, weather permitting, is for me to arrive in McMurdo on August 27 (which is the 26th in the US).  Once I am in McMurdo I will work there for about six weeks and then fly to the South Pole around October 15 for their season opening.  I will work the remainder of the summer season at the cold, windy, high-altitude Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station - a difficult work location at the best of times.  But I prefer it to McMurdo for that very reason.  But I admit I do not have much McMurdo experience so maybe I will like it too.

Until I arrive and can start posting some pics, here is a real-time web cam of McMurdo Station.

You may notice it is always dark [edit - not true any more] because the Sun will not rise above the horizon at McMurdo until around August 15. My office is in the long blue building that goes from the center to about 2:45 in the picture.  The galley, barber shop, store, public access computers, and some dormitory rooms are also in that building.

*ECW gear = Extreme Cold Weather gear.  Usually handed out in Christchurch, NZ since it must be worn on the C-17 flight to the ice.


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