On November 12, I woke up at a crisp 5am at the Elms Hotel in Christchurch, New Zealand to finally make the flight over to Antarctica. Photoset.
From the airport, the super shuttle took us on a short and rainy 15 minute drive over to the International Antarctic Center, which is right next to the airport. Once there, things were fairly straightforward.
Our bags that had been laid out the afternoon prior were still there, so we quickly had to put on our ECW gear on, and then head over into the terminal with all of our packed bags.
Bags went through security screening, and then there was a short safety presentation before everybody was loaded up onto the airport shuttle and taken out to the C-17.
In addition to the support workers and scientists on my flight, there were also about 20 or so airmen, who were working both on the C-17, as well as the LC-130. Luckily, I got to sit on the wall of the plane, right next to an airforce lutennant and another airmen, Talking to them was very very intersting, and throughout the flight we discussed all the details about operating the C-17, as well as loading cargo into the LC-130.
Overall, the flight to McMurdo was easy and uneventful. The plane was loud, I wore earplugs the whole way. Everybody got a prepacked lunch, and for most of the flight, we sat around reading and doing work, and occasionally walking around.
The view out the windows was absolutely spectacular, and I even got to go up to the flight deck to look around for a bit.
Finally, 4+ years of anticipation and dedication, and days of constant travel, I finally set foot on the Antarctic continent. What a wonderful feeling! Stepping off the plane was really indescribably – there was the rush of filing off a roaring military jet, the exhaustion of traveling for days on end to get here, and the satisfaction and excitement of taking the first step in the fulfillment of one my lifelong dreams.
Once we were off the C17, transport specialists from McMurdo loaded us into a giant “Bus”, and transported us across the frozen Ross Sea into McMurdo.