November 28, 2015
Can you believe they flew 1900 miles, to 80 degrees S. latitude, in a Boeing 757 with wheels (not skis) and then landed on a couple mile long strip of hard ice? Blows you away.
The first flights in the early 80’s were in a DC3 with a third engine. I first flew down in 1988 in a DC 4. The plane and I were about the same age. That evolved to a DC6 for a bit. They called her the “Ice Princess”. The big leap was to C 130’s which came from South Africa. Mind you, we were always landing on the Ice with wheels. The Russian military cargo jet, the IL 76 was next in the progression. Now – the Boeing 757. Almost enough to get me to go back to Antarctica. All I can say is – pretty wild.
So, the team arrived later Thanksgiving Day and did their celebrating at the Union Glacier camp. Friday was bit of a rest/organization/wait day. They retrieved all the equipment we leave on the Ice between seasons, sorted and checked it all out. Plan was to fly that last hour over to Vinson base camp today in DeHaviland Twin Otters. Great airplane. If they get in today, they’ll be pulling sleds up to C1 tomorrow. Vinson base is, in general terms, around 7K feet with C1 around 10K ft. They’ll be totally stoked to get the packs on, strap on a sled and walk uphill. To say the views are impressive is a bit of an understatement.