Flying to McMurdo

On Wednesday, January 5, I woke up in time to report to the CDC at 6am;  we put on our warm clothes, grabbed our bags, were “weighed in” (so they could balance the cargo load on the plane), and then checked in for our flight.  Here I am after checking bags, waiting for boarding time.

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We went through all the same screening that you go through in a regular airport, then took a bus out to the plane.  We’re required to wear or carry all of our “extreme cold weather gear”, just in case the plane has to make an emergency landing somewhere cold.

This time of year a lot of the flights are on US Air Force C-17′s, which you can learn about from the C-17 wikipedia entry.  It’s a very cool cargo plane, which you can see from this picture of the interior… we flew with a helicopter (for the New Zealand Antarctic program) on board!

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We’re sitting on “jump seats”, where paratroopers sit when they jump out of the plane.

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Near the end of the flight, as we got over Antarctica, we could see some nice scenery through the (very few, very small) windows…

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After 5 hours of flying, we landed at the “Pegasus” ice runway, which is on the permanent ice shelf a little ways away from the actual base.  Here’s a picture of the C-17 as we got off, before we took the 40 minute “bus ride” into town.  Note the wheels, which require hard ice to land and take off – this aircraft can’t land on soft (or even hard) snow.

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That’s all for now, more later!