Thursday, December 20, 2012

Arrival in McMurdo

We finally made it to McMurdo! Last night, we packed all of our gear, donned our ECW, and boarded the plane to fly to McMurdo. Here's a photo of Brendan, Chris, and I all packed and ready to go. (Notice the NASA scientist on the left is the one least capable of packing light.)
We're packed and ready to go!
Once we're dressed and packed, we wheel our carts over to the "pax terminal". ("Pax" is short for "passenger".) We hand over all of our checked luggage, which gets weighed. We can check as many bags as we want, but we have to stay under 150 lbs. We then have to step on the scale ourselves, along with all of our carry-on and ECW, so that the pilots know how much weight they're carrying. We watch a couple more training videos, and then we're off!

Normally, we fly on U.S. Air Force cargo planes. It's pretty fun, but not very luxurious. This year, however, we traveled to Antarctica in style! We flew on an Airbus 319, just like a commercial flight! Instead of flying in a cold, loud cargo plane on a jump seat made out of webbing, we sat in plush leather seats like first class, and we each got our own row! Instead of all scrambling to look out of one tiny porthole to see the view, we each had our own window! There were even flight attendants serving hot beverages!
Chris shows us how excited he is to be served hot tea by flight attendants on his way to Antarctica.

Because we each had our own window, we got a great view of the Trans-Antarctic Mountains  as we flew over the continent. I think this photo is pretty neat, because of the great cloud formations in the valley over the glacier. Above those clouds, the sky is beautiful and blue! Below those clouds, you feel the reason we weren't able to fly!

View from the Airbus window. I love having my own window!
After a four and a half hour flight, we landed on Pegasus Runway

Me in front of the plane at Pegasus Runway
Since our arrival, we have been VERY busy! We're a day and a half behind because of the delay. We've been busy setting up all of our equipment so that it's ready for use in the field. We've been packing up all of our camping gear and moving it to the helicopter hangar so that we can be ready to fly into the field. We also, of course, have more safety trainings to sit through. The current plan is that we'll be heading into the field on Sunday. Let's hope all goes well!