South Pole Diaries 1999/2000    


Sunday 16th January: 

From Jessica:

*amazing* day, and definitely got the biggest thrill since being here. I arose a little late, and got out to the AASTO and began pottering, but we were of course a little set back by the failed G-tower thing. Then we hear: the famous astronaut Jim Lovell, captain of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission and first man to circumnavigate the moon on Apollo 8 was ariving at the Pole for a special visit in a DC3 aircraft. At 3:30pm everyone gathered to hear him speak and hopefully get and autograph or two. To top it off a second astronaut Owein... oh bugger, Owein... Owein Whatsamecallit, the scientist on board the SkyLab shuttle, would also be there. WE gathered, and I was quite surprised at what Jim looked like. The first thing he said is "I'm sure you were all expecting Tom Hanks!", but he was actually a healthy and distinguished looking gentleman in his early seventies. He was a wonderful speaker. He chatted about first Apollo 8, which was amazing in itself, but then of course about the more famous mission 13. As he spoke I leaned against the wall in amazement. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this guy has always been a bit of a hero to me. Certainly, in astronaut terms, I have much more respect for this guy than the guys who first walked on the moon. It is inconceivable to imagine the peril that this man had escaped through only his calm and ingenuity. I kept thinking "This is *the* guy, the real guy...!" His matter-of-factness only served to highlight the amazing tale.  I will not go into detail of what he said (because if you've seen Apollo 13 you get the general idea), and if you want me to, write and I'll chat to you specifically. 

Owein Thingamagig was also excellent and fascinating. Then there was a time when they graciously consented to autographs. The entire station was there. I have both of their autographs, and I'm going to frame the things,. Jim wrote "To Jessica, Jim Lovell. Apollo 13" I then, in my most charming Australian accent, requested a photo with him, which I got someone to take. OH GOD I hope it works out!!!!

It is the best namedropping story in the world. Next opportunity to mention the famous people we've met, nothing can top, "oh yeah, I once met Jim Lovell at the South Pole..."!  True highlight of my stay. I have since chatted with both Jim and Owein and have only served to increase my admiration. Jim is also lefthanded, just like me. Which of course means, that I can be an astronaut when I grow up.  

Jessica :)


From Jill:

Sunday 16th :- Taking it easy, but guess who I met!

Today I just took it easy. I don't think that the altitude has affected me much more than making me sleepy and gasping for air if I do things too quickly. The best and most memorable thing that happened today was meeting Captain James Lovell (astronaut from Apollo 8 and Apollo 13). He spoke briefly about his missions; on Apollo 8 he was one of the first people to see the dark side of the moon and Apollo 13, well I think everyone knows that story!

I think most people from the station were in the galley to hear him and were mesmerized when he was describing the Apollo13 mission and what went wrong. Ok, maybe that was a slight exaggeration, I'm not sure if everyone was mesmerized, I know I was! I got an autograph and photo with him which certainly made my day. It was amazing to think Jim Lovell was standing right in front of me. It was fantastic. I can't believe I am here and that this is happening.

Jill :)


Further Information



See also:

AASTO Home Page