Geoff Sims @ UNSW
Home South Pole Diaries 2012/13 11th January, 2013


Friday, 11th January, 2013

A gloomy day. (John)

The weather has closed in on us today. It's a bit bleak all round. Not only are we waiting for the remaining equipment for Craig's experiment, HEAT, to arrive; the delay the result of the unseasonably warm weather at the Pegasus ice runway at McMurdo, but our Twin Otter is also grounded because of poor visibility on the plateau. And the galley has run out of almost everything, including eggs. Now most dishes contain at least some artichokes.

Gloom and despondency at South Pole.

To cheer ourselves up last night we formed a team to compete in a Pub Trivia evening. At South Pole, when the satellite is down, it's a level playing field as you can't surreptitiously access Wikipedia (or anything else on the web) with your iPhone. Geoff has described our participation in the evening, but diplomatically failed to mentioned how dismally we performed. Despite competing under the pseudonym of "Drive it like you stole it", we consistently did no better than third or fourth place. There were four teams. While we aced questions such as "Name the three permanent Australian Antarctic bases", we were flummoxed by questions such as "Which NBL player scored the greatest number of home runs in the 1995 Rose Bowl?" I was also dismayed to find that our UNSW geeks, considered to be amongst the best in the world, were totally outgunned by the Caltech geeks when it came to the sci-fi questions. How can anyone possible know what the last spoken words were in the first "Star Wars" film?

Meanwhile, our gear for the Twin Otter flight is stacked up on the flight line, slowly gathering a light dusting of snow. (By the way, Geoff says that if I crop my photos 3:2 instead of 4:3, people will think I took them with an expensive DSLR camera.)

All packed up and nowhere to go.

Tomorrow, maybe?

Since I was wandering around the flight line anyway, I checked out our Twin Otter.

"Attractive" and "Twin Otter" are not often found in the same sentence.

Like an FJ Holden, dead crude but easy to fix when things go wrong.

These are the doors that defined the size of PLATO-R.

A study in basic structural engineering.

Shortly after we arrived at Pole we decided we needed a piece of plywood and rails under the engines so that they can sit on something accommodating whilst transported in the Twin Otter and when sitting on the snow at Ridge A. We then realized that if the plywood kicked up at the front, it would make a dandy sled, and thus was born the "sledlet" concept. We asked the carpenter to make us one for each engine, and this is what she came up with. It's the South Pole I remember so fondly - when you ask for something you don't get what you asked for but what you actually need, and it exceeds your wildest expectations. As someone wistfully remarked "This is what universities used to be like, too."

Yes, we have wondered how fast it would go if we coupled the engine up to some tracks or a propeller.


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