Towards the back-end of February it started to become a little touch and go as to whether the Shack would actually get in to Halley and pick us (summer staff and outgoing winterers) all up. The sea ice in the Weddell sea was really starting to form thicker and thicker and every day it was going to be harder and harder to get through.
So, as two ALCI baslers were due to fly through Halley on their way back to Canada BAS booked as many of us as they could to get on board and fly out to Rothera and my name came up on the list.
To be honest I wasn’t the happiest camper about this turn of events and I was wandering around base with a bit of a scowl on my face for a few days. First of all I’m still not overly enamoured with flying – and going out this way meant a lot of that! Secondly I felt really disappointed to miss out on going out in the traditional manner – on the deck of the Shack, waving goodbye to the 2015 winterers who would be waving us off on the ice shelf – the same way we did the previous year and I was keen to see out the whole experience with my fellow 2014 winter team – or the eight of us that were left with ten-day cruise through the sea ice and a visit to the Falklands.
As it turns out I was a little bit wrong! Wrong to be such a mardy-arse about the whole thing and wrong because I actually got the sweeter deal than those left behind. The twenty or so left at Halley ended up having to come out in a similar way to us, flying to Rothera and then going up to South America. So sorry to all those who had to put up with being grumpy!
First part of the trip involved getting into one of these beauties:
ALCI – or Antarctic Logistics Centre International run a number of planes down here in the summer months carrying goods and people around the continent from on base to another and then they spend the winter back home in Canada.
The two Basler planes are updated versions of the DC-3 which have been flying since 1936! The plane I flew out on saw service during WW2 and was involved in the Normandy landings! They really are cool looking aircraft, when talking about them to people back home I described them as “Indiana Jones” planes.
Despite having the chance to fly a Twin Otter earlier in the season I still had a residual bit of “flying freak out” going on (though this seems to now have gone thanks to the “immersion therapy” of the trip home) In spite of this I was still aware of just how amazingly cool it is to fly in one of these aircraft across the Weddell sea and some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet on my way to Rothera.
So I wouldn’t go as far as saying I enjoyed but it was pretty bloody amazing!
next up: Rothera – otherwise know as the promised land!