The ice flight to McMurdo was a success! No boomerang for us. We also learned why the call time for our flight was so ungodly early. Turned out there were a bunch of penguins on there way back to Sea World in the States and the C-17 cargo plane we took down to Antarctica needed enough time to get back to Christchurch with them on the same day.
We got picked up from our hotel at 2:00 AM and headed back to the CDC to get into our ECW gear and check our luggage for the flight. Here's a picture of me in my Carhartt overalls with all of my bags and ECW gear before the flight. I got a bit of sun during my stay in Christchurch.
Me before boarding the plane.
Like I mentioned earlier, we were taken down in a C-17 cargo plane. The number of passengers depends on how much cargo they ship down. We only had about 50 people this morning - the rest of the plane was filled with cargo, everything from a giant refrigerator unit to pallets of coke and Coors Light. There were a few seats at the front that were just like a commercial airliner, but most of us sat on canvas seats on the walls of the plane.
I was on a flight taking Coors Light and Coke of all things to McMurdo and the South Pole.
Most of us sat on the walls of the aircraft.
The flight to McMurdo from Christchurch takes a bit over five hours, and we took off around 4:30 AM. I slept quite a bit on the flight, but I woke up just in time to look out the window and see the edge of the line of ice and icebergs marking our rapid approach to the continent.
The view out the roughly 6 inch diameter window on the C-17. Starting to see some ice...
We landed about an hour later and made our way to Ivan the "Terrabus," a big school bus-like vehicle with treads that took us from the Pegasus airway (one of several landing strips at McMurdo - also the furthest from the station) to the station proper. McMurdo Station is known as "Mactown" around here.
Disembarking from the C-17. Antarctica in the background! We landed on the frozen ocean, and McMurdo is built on Ross Island, so I haven't technically set foot on the continent yet.
After sitting through a Station orientation, grabbing linens to make our beds, and sorting some luggage, we decided to take a quick hike out to Scott Hut. It's an old wooden hut made back in 1902 during the Scott Antarctic expedition
. The hut is in remarkably good shape. It looked to me like it was made only a few years ago. I guess it's sort of perserved by the dryness and temperature. Hanging out near Scott Hut on the ice were a bunch of seals. Sadly, I haven't spotted any penguins yet.
A cliff on our hike overlooking the ocean. I hear the view is spectacular on a sunny day. Maybe on my return trip...
Scott (Discovery) Hut, made during the 1901-1904 Antarctic Discovery Expedition
Seals hanging out on the ice.
It's almost dinner time, and after that we have bag drop (we check in our bags for the flight south to the Pole tomorrow morning), so I'm going to finish up here. I'll leave with a picture of me standing near Scott Hut with Mactown in the background.
Me and Mactown.