Sunday, October 23, 2016

McMurdo Season 6 - Day 21

Current Temp -8F Wind Chill -22F and Mostly Sunny

Got out for a short walk out to hut point the other evening after work.  For those of you who are not familiar, hut point is the point 1/2 mile from station where Scott built one of his huts to support his expeditions down here.  And it is just a nice easy walk when you want to get out of town.

Here you can see hut point from town.  In the foreground you can see clearly the outline of the Ice Pier.  In a few months there will be a ship docked there.  Right now it is the entrance to the sea ice for vehicles that are headed across the bay.

And here is the view back to town from hut point.  You can see the hut in the foreground here.  Also, the four large brown buildings on the edge of town are the Upper Case Dorms.  The second one from the left is where Paula and I live.

This shot shows the view looking uphill.  The dome is the NASA dome and it has a huge dish inside of it. I don't really remember what it is for, but I am going up there today to do a fire inspection.  I will get more info and post it later.

Friday night the Fire Department had training at the Helo Hanger.  We received training and familiarization on the airframes that fly here in McMurdo.

Then we got a good tour of the helicopters out on the pad.  The helicopters are operated by PHI and they have 2 Bell 212's and 2 Eurocoptor A-Star's.  The Kiwi's also fly an A-Star.

All of these photos are of the 212 and it is a direct descendant of the Huey that operated in Vietnam.  They are workhorses and carry up to 11 people and they also carry sling loads of cargo to the field camps regularly.

And Gary, if you are reading this, the 212's are equipped with an HF radio and the antenna is run along the tail of the aircraft.

Tonight Paula is taking a rec trip to the pressure ridges on the ice shelf in front of Scott Base.  I will be attending the trip, so hopefully I will have some good photos of that coming soon.

Talk to you soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Two liters a day.

Current Temperature 0F Wind Chill -16F Mostly Cloudy

So two liters a day.  That is the amount of water that I have to drink everyday on top of juice, milk, diet Coke, etc.  We are back to the wonderful world of no humidity and cold.  I can immediately tell by the condition of the back of my hands whether or not I have been drinking enough.  They will start to dry up in a half a day.   It is amazing how dry things are.  Add on top of that the cold, and the constant hand washing that we do to prevent colds from spreading and you get to know what hand cream works the best for you.

All is well, Paula is working out at the airfield tonight (it is 20:00 as I write this) and I am working late and I just came from helicopter training.  Photos to come of that.

Until next time.

Monday, October 17, 2016

McMurdo Season 6 Day 16

Current Weather -2F Wind Chill -14F Partly Cloudy

So summer weather has started to arrive.  On Sunday there was a volunteer trail maintenance crew to help open up the trail around Ob Hill.  The Ob Hill loop is a moderate trail that goes around Ob Hill and has great views of the bay.  It is 2.7 miles long and is fairly flat.

So for the trail maintenance we were digging out all of the snow and ice on the trail.  We had a crew of about 24 people and we had it all finished up in about 3 hours.  It was great weather to be outside.  The skies were overcast but there was no wind at all and the temp was about 0F.  Great weather to work in.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

McMurdo Season #6 Day 10

Current Weather 3F Wind Chill -14F

Good Morning all.  I am getting ready for the start of my Thursday at work.  Today I get to do supervisor fire training for most all of the supervisors on station today.  So that will be most of my morning tweaking and over analyzing my presentation.

Yesterday we had our first good blow of the Mainbody season.  We had a C-17 flight scheduled to come in, but mid morning the winds kicked up and made for some nasty weather.  We were in Condition 2 here in town, but all of the Ice shelf locations were in Condition 1.

For those of you that are new to the program, Condition 3 is normal McMurdo weather.  Not necessarily good, just normal.  There are no restrictions in Con 3.

Con 2 is:
Winds 48 to 55 knots sustained for one minute, or
Visibility less than 1/4 mile, but greater than or equal to 100 feet sustained for one minute, or
Wind chill -75F to -100F sustained for one minute.

Con 1 is:
Winds greater than 55 knots sustained for one minute, or
Visibility less than 100 feet sustained for one minute, or
Wind chill less than -100F sustained for one minute.

So, when we are in Con 2 there are some restrictions about checking out, and no solo travel etc. but here in town there isn't a huge change in life, except that is stinks outside.

When we get to Con 1, all people must remain indoors for the duration.  So whatever location you are in, you are staying in until the storm passes.

When there is obvious weather coming into the area, the airfield manager will close the airfield in advance, so that the workers can get back to town before the Ice shelf goes to Con 1 (more common out there, than in town).  However, once the C-130's get down here the fire department, and a few other departments will be staffing the airfield 24/7.  At that point, when the airfield gets closed and you go to Con 1.  You stay put in your little station out there until the storm passes.  And hopefully that is before shift change.

All that being said, it was a good little storm here in town.  Not much snow moved around, just a bit of accumulation.  Fleet Ops and AGE (Aircraft Ground Equipment) are headed to the airfield this morning to see the conditions out there.  And then we see if a flight gets to come in today.

And lastly, I don't have any photos from yesterday, but I was out walking around last Sunday and I was practicing with my new camera.  This time of year is cool because we have low lighting from the sun, and some snow still.  Enjoy.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

McMurdo Season #6 Day 1

Current weather -11F Wind Chill -35F Mostly Cloudy.

So I am playing catch up on writing.  Today is Sunday the 9th, and we arrived on Monday the 3rd.

Monday morning we had a pickup time of 05:30 from the Ramada Inn in Christchurch.  From there we were off to the CDC to don our cold weather clothing, check in our luggage and then wait for an in briefing before our flight.

After a few videos and some remaining information for the flight, we boarded a bus to take us across the street to the tarmac.  Between the bus and the C-17 (did I mention how nice the C-17 is??) we pick up our bag lunch and a liter of drinking water.  Oh, and shown by the guy on the left, you have to get your hero photo before you board as well.

Now after a smooth 5 hour flight to McMurdo, everyone is bundled up and headed for the exit.  You can see by this photo how amazingly large the inside of a C-17 is.  Also, I am standing on a pallet with aircraft seats mounted to it.  You can see in front of me the row of seats on the centerline of the aircraft, and then there are two more pallets of aircraft seats in the front as well. The aircraft seats have about 2-1/2 feet of space between one row and the next.  We have to have the extra room just to be able to carry our extra ECW (extreme cold weather) gear.  And it is great for my legroom compared to all of the American Airlines flights that I suffered through.

And welcome back to Antarctica.  You can see that the engine cowling is open on the aircraft.  They performed an ERO (engine running offload) which speeds up the process and gets them back in the air quicker.

And lastly we jumped on the VOUS (vehicle of unusual size) for our slow ride into town.  But at least we were much more comfortable than if we got stuck riding in Ivan the Terra Bus.

So, that is all I have for photos from this week.  After we got into town we have been very busy at work.  I have been sorting through everything in my office and reviewing my computer programs, and paperwork to get myself up to speed.  Other than that, I have started teaching General Fire Safety to all of the new arrivals on station as well.  This season I will teach that class to everyone that arrives, so I will be well practiced at it.  I had a class of 100 people for my first one.  Tomorrow, I will have another class of 100.

The weather has been cool, mostly -15 to 0 range, but the wind chill has been brutal.

That is all for now.  I will have more time to keep up going forward.  Tomorrow night, I hope to attend the photography club meeting.


Saturday, October 01, 2016

McMurdo Season # 6 Day - 1

Yesterday was a full day of supervisor training out at the CDC for supervisors.  In the morning HR training, which is dull, but the instructor was good so that make it reasonable.  Then in the afternoon we had to sit through supervisor safety training with a person that we have worked before and he is terrible.  So the entire afternoon was wasted and really pointless, but, they paid me to be there so I survived.

Then we got back to the hotel about 4pm and we headed right out to the bus station which is only about 10 blocks from us.  There we jumped on the Y bus to New Brighton.  New Brighton is a cool little ocean front town.  They have a 300 meter long pier out into the ocean, and on the beach at the end of the pier is the library.  Unfortunately right now the library is closed for renovations.  But we had a nice walk out on the pier; saw some people fishing and some crabbing.  It was also high tide and there were some good rollers coming in, so we saw some hearty surfers out in the cold water.

Today we are back to the CDC for cold weather clothing issue, as well as general training.  Paula talked to the officer from the C17 yesterday and he said that their are 108 people manifested for our flight, and the weather report looked good for Monday.

Thanks for checking out the blog.

Friday, September 30, 2016

McMurdo Season # 6 Day - 3

It is 6AM NZDT and I am getting ready for a 7:15 pickup to go to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center).  Today we get to go through the annual supervisor training for work.  It is scheduled for 8-3 and then we are off for the remainder of the day.  Then we do the same tomorrow with normal HR type training.  

So the flight down was reasonable, or as reasonable as 33 hours in airplanes and airports can be.  Cheyenne was the smallest air terminal that I have ever gone through.  There were 4 people on our flight to Denver.  Denver International is a nice airport and it has gotten better, they have installed electrical outlets in at least 50% of the passenger seating areas.  And to go with that they now have Wi-Fi free in the terminal.  A much easier place to spend 5 hours waiting for a flight now.

Then on to LAX.  That place was nice about 1978 and they haven't fixed anything since.  I know that they have been rebuilding the international terminal and it should be nice now, so we have stopped going there.  We were in the American Airlines terminal and it is just old.  Totally functional, just blah.  From there we boarded a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  Which is the first time we have flown on one of those.  It is noticeable how much smoother and quieter the 787 is compared to other aircraft, which I think is why I was able to sleep for at least half of the 13-1/2 hour flight.  Still not as good of service as Quantas, but not a bad flight overall.

Then we landed in Auckland, NZ.  The best part about Auckland airport is that they have a free public shower.  After a full day in airports or on airplanes it is wonderful to have a shower and clean clothes.  And from Auckland we had one last flight to Christchurch.  We got into Christchurch, pickup up our bags, and made it to the hotel by about 4PM.

Well time for breakfast and off to training.

More to come.