Geoff Sims @ UNSW
Home South Pole Diaries 2012/13 8th January, 2013


Tuesday, 8th January, 2013

A very busy day. (John)

Our personal transport for the next few days will be a Twin Otter. These are an amazing aircraft, and have become the work-horse for transport to and from field sites in the Antarctic interior. They are able to land just about anywhere and carry just about anything - as long as it fits through the doors. This in fact drove the design of PLATO-R, which consists of two modules in two halves, the four pieces each exactly fitting through the Twin Otter doors.

"Our" Twin Otter.

Over breakfast we met with the Twin Otter pilots, Brent and Darrin. They seemed well pleased with our plans, especially when Craig showed them images of the Ridge A site taken this morning by PLATO-R's webcamera. Our discussion finished on a very satisfactory note with the pilot saying: "Just email us your flight manifest...and the coordinates of Ridge A".

Brent (left) and Darrin (right) admire Craig's Macbook Air.

I brought my laptop too, but nobody admired it.

There is a problem this year in that the USAP have changed from using black garbage bags to white ones. What no-one told the waste management folk is that a black garbage bag full of snow or stuck on a bamboo pole is the defacto way of marking out the skiway at a field camp, and the white ones just don't work as well...

We need 230 volts to charge our electric drills before we head out to Ridge A, but of course the station only has US 115 volts available. After breakfast I figured out how to make 230 volts using a 115 volt isolation transformer and some dodgy wiring.

Don't try this at home, kiddies.

Of interest today was the arrival of a Basler DC3. These are another fine Antarctic airplane; this one was ferrying tourists in from Union Glacier, to spend a few hours at Pole.

The view from the Amundsen Scott station dining room window. The Basler DC3 has just arrived at the Ceremonial South Pole. Behind it is the South Pole visitor's centre (!), while to the far right of picture are the tourist tents.

The Basler DC3's have turbo-prop engines and modern avionics.

The DC3; as beautiful as the LC130 is plain.

The DC3 heads down the skyway to a backdrop of HF communications antennas.

While Sydney battles a record heat wave, it is slowly getting colder here and today the temperature dipped below -28C. I am finding that I can dress in my normal casual clothes and shoes, throw on some windproof pants, a balaclava and Big Red (as the Snow Goose parkas are affectionately known) and be perfectly comfortable outside. I much prefer this to +43C!


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