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Long Haul: Flying from Denver to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Field Camp

Finally, the time has come – I’m departing to Antarctica, for my second deployment to the ice. I’m extremely excited about getting back to work on another great project, and am looking forward to meeting my new work crew, and to working on the IDDO DISC Drill at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Field Camp.

Getting there isn’t easy though – I’ll be traveling for the next few days, and will hopefully make it to my final spot in about a week. Here’s a brief overview of my travel to the ice:

 

  • Dec 5 – Fly Denver, Colorado to Los Angeles, California on commercial air – American Airlines
  • Dec 5 – 7 – Fly Los Angeles, California to Sydney, Australia on commercial air – Quantas Airlines
  • Dec 7 – Fly Sydney, Australia to Christchurch, New Zealand on commercial air – Emirates Airlines
  • Dec 7 – 9 – Stag in Christchurch, New Zealand. Go though Extreme Cold Weather Gear issue, introductions, hopefully have some free time to explore more of Christchurch
  • Dec 9 – Fly Christchurch, New Zealand to McMurdo Station, Antarctica on US Military – Air Force Operation Deep Freeze on a LC-130 Hercules
  • Dec 9 – ? – Spend a good amount of time in McMurdo Station, Antarctica gearing up with deep field expedition gear, go through lots of polar field survival training, go through work gear, meet crew.
  • Dec 12 or so – Fly McMurdo Station, Antarctica  to West Antarctic Ice Sheet Field Camp on US Air Force LC-130 Hercules
  • Dec 12 0r so – Finally arrive at my final location, and maybe get some sleep, and then finally GET TO WORK!!!

Hopping on my LAX>SYD flight now. Cheers!

Departing Denver, Colorado en route to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Field Camp, Antarctica
Departing Denver, Colorado en route to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Field Camp, Antarctica

Update 2014-12-09

After two days in Christchurch, New Zealand and a bit of gear issue, the next leg of the journey is complete – this morning I flew from Christchurch, New Zealand to McMurdo Station, Antarctica aboard an LC-130 Hercules. A few pics:

First task of the morning - putting on ECW Gear.
First task of the morning – putting on ECW Gear.
First task of the morning - putting on ECW Gear.
First task of the morning – putting on ECW Gear.
Checking into the passenger side of the International Antarctic Centre facility. Like any other flight, we go through standard security procedure, which includes verifying identity with Passport, metal detector, xray machine, etc. Additionally, all bags are weighed, including carryon.
Checking into the passenger side of the International Antarctic Centre facility. Like any other flight, we go through standard security procedure, which includes verifying identity with Passport, metal detector, xray machine, etc. Additionally, all bags are weighed, including carryon.
Best airport shuttle ever!
Best airport shuttle ever!
Since the LC-130 is LOUD when it starts up, safety briefing takes place outside of the airplane. Oxygen masks are a bit different on this aircraft, and consist of a chemical oxygen generator coupled to a full-head hood. Much like an emergency fire escape hood.
Since the LC-130 is LOUD when it starts up, safety briefing takes place outside of the airplane. Oxygen masks are a bit different on this aircraft, and consist of a chemical oxygen generator coupled to a full-head hood. Much like an emergency fire escape hood.
Onboard, I sat with polie friend Chris K.
Onboard, I sat with polie friend Chris K.
Inside, we sit sideways, with a few people in a the middle section. Seating is tight, especially with everybody's gear - but not horribly uncomfortable.
Inside, we sit sideways, with a few people in a the middle section. Seating is tight, especially with everybody’s gear – but not horribly uncomfortable.
In addition to medical kits, there are also a few survival kits stashed around the plane.
In addition to medical kits, there are also a few survival kits stashed around the plane.
No food cart, but we do get brown bag lunches onboard, including super cute Penguin chips! Sorry, no BBQ flavor. ;)
No food cart, but we do get brown bag lunches onboard, including super cute Penguin chips! Sorry, no BBQ flavor. ;)
Sign marking our pallate of gear.
Sign marking our pallate of gear.
While we're in mid-flight, it's ok to go visit the cockpit - super cool!
While we’re in mid-flight, it’s ok to go visit the cockpit – super cool!
Passing over the seasonally frozen southern ocean, with cracks forming in mid-summer. The ice cover is absolutely beautiful, and takes on infinite forms.
Passing over the seasonally frozen southern ocean, with cracks forming in mid-summer. The ice cover is absolutely beautiful, and takes on infinite forms.
Massive peaks of the Trans-Antarctic Mountains poke out of the polar ice cap. Beautiful.
Massive peaks of the Trans-Antarctic Mountains poke out of the polar ice cap. Beautiful.
Another one of the many many forms of sea ice.
Another one of the many many forms of sea ice.
Stepping out of the Herc at Willy's Field ice runway.
Stepping out of the Herc at Willy’s Field ice runway.
In addition to USAP members, we also flew with a bit of the crew of New Zealand's Scott Base, which is just over the hill from McMurdo on Ross Island.
In addition to USAP members, we also flew with a bit of the crew of New Zealand’s Scott Base, which is just over the hill from McMurdo on Ross Island.
A delta, and Antarctic airport shuttle, essentially.
A delta, and Antarctic airport shuttle, essentially.
First things first in McMurdo - a briefing about briefings.
First things first in McMurdo – a briefing about briefings.

Update 2015-03-04

At long last, here’s video of the flights from Christchurch to WAIS.

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