Saturday, 23 February 2008

Another Steve King fly by. He is new to BAS this year but has flown Twin Otters in the Arctic and Antarctic for over 20 years. I was lucky enough to get my final flight with Steve which was great fun!

Fossil Bluff closes down for the Winter

Well after 15 months here i finally got to go to Fossil Bluff! This is a summer base and is used as a refueling depot through the summer months. BAS used to winter here and the last time it was wintered in was in the early 60's. It is a fabulous hut named Bluebell Cottage and has lots of history inside.

I was there to start the winterisation and remove some of the older skidoos for the winter.
I eventually got 3 nights there and got an excellent final flight back with one of our new pilots who has got over 20 years experience flying Twin Otters down here in the Antarctic.
That is pyramid in the background to the right hand side.

I was there with Tim the new wintering electrician. Here he is winterising the gas fired 'rocket bog' Unfortunately the ponds water level rose around 3 feet this summer hence the toilet will have to be relocated next season if it can be chipped out from the solid ice which will have formed around it at through the winter.

One evening we climbed to the top of Pyramid one of the local peaks behind the cottage. It took us about an hour and a half to reach the top just in time for our evening sched which we did over the iridium sat phone.

Fossil Bluff is aptly named as there are fossils all around the local area. This is a fossil of a cuttle fish and there are lots more os shells, snail things and ferns. It makes you wonder what the Antarctic was like millions of years ago and what animals lived there.

The Cottage is well equipped with a Rayburn and electric powered by a generator. We even had some fresh eggs so a fry up for breakfast was a must.

I even had the chance to have a go at baking bread. This was the first attempt which i was quite happy with.

I also baked an Apple pie which turned out a little overdone but tasted just right. If you read this mum, don't get any ideas!!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Borek planes return. But not quite in one piece

Recognize this??? Well back in October this Bassler/DC-3 came through Rothera on the way to the South Pole for the American science pro gramme. Unfortunately it crashed in the field during the summer season and had to be rebuilt out on the ice.

The plane belongs to Ken Borek air and is the flagship plane for the company.

It really is amazing to see what work can be done in the field and the air mechanics have done a fabulous job to get this plane back in the air. I saw some pictures of the plane after the crash and the entire under carriage had ripped off and all of the propellers were bent.

A entire tail section has been replaced with one from a scrapped plane.

Its a wonder that the plane can fly with so much damage. The whole underside has dents and plates covering holes. Both engines have been replaced and the undercarriage. I'm sure it flys a bit to one side with the wing tip missing on one side!!!

Now thats what you call using your initiative !!!

Custom paint job!!

Well all they have to do now is fly that small leg of the journey up to Canada !!!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Sky Blu

A few weeks the Lawrence M Gould came to Rothera. The ship come in every year for a party and fortunately this year i got back from Sky Blu just in time. This ship coming in is one of the highlights of the season as the band usually gets together and we have a good Saturday night of drinking and dancing! The ships crew are mainly scientists carrying out CTD's and work on Krill in Antarctic waters. Mostly everyone on the ship is American and they seem to know how to enjoy themselves. The ship is dry whilst at sea so the first beers went down rather quickly!!

Back to Sky Blu again !! This time for only a week....or was that two Andy Barker......
Anyway i had a great time yet again and there have been many improvements at the base this year. With the input of the new machine the runway can now be cleared with little effort, new weather havens for comfortable sleeping arrangements and the building of a new under ground garage for winter storage of machines and equipment the base is completely different to 12 months ago.
Whilst there i was involved in the uplifts of the remaining field parties from the other side of the Elsworth mountains. We were blessed with good weather and worked no stop for about 50 hrs to get all the guys out. You can see above the huge amount of carg that was up lifted.

You can never tire of watching the Dash 7 on the Blue ice.

Once the cargo was back at Sky Blu the Dash 7 could load it on and take it back to Rothera.

Our new CAT machine for clearing the runway and general base snow maintenance. We have lots of attachments for the machine including a snowblower, snow blade, runway brush, bucket and pallet forks for loading barrels onto the planes easily.

Introduction of two new weather havens has provided the base with a heated garage for machine maintenance and comfortable sleeping quarters.

My bed for the stay. The one on the to the heater !!
The temperature is starting to drop quite considerably now at the base. Whilst i was there it was a steady -15 but did get down to -25.

The new under ground garage build this season for storage or machinery over the winter period in a safe place away from the 100 knot winds on the surface.

Twin Otter refueling during the field part uplifts. Is it night or is it morning....No one knows????

My red taxi coming into land.

I did get a couple more flights over the Elsworths which are out of this world but this one was taken on the way back to Rothera of massive chunks of ice breaking out from the King George sound.