Return to the frozen south

The Airbus A-380 double decker flew us 17 hours from Dallas to Sydney, Australia

The Airbus A-380 double decker flew us 17 hours from Dallas to Sydney, Australia

The C-130 Cargo plane lands on skis on a glacier on Ross Island in Antarctica
The C-130 Cargo plane lands on skis on a glacier on Ross Island in Antarctica

 

1942 Bassler flight to the South Pole

1942 Bassler flight to the South Pole

Antarctica 2015 South Pole marker

Antarctica 2015 South Pole marker

South Pole Ice tunnel tour at 50 below

South Pole Ice tunnel tour at 50 below

Ice tunnel debris ready for removal to keep the walls from closing in

Ice tunnel debris ready for removal to keep the walls from closing in

South Pole Ice Cube project

South Pole Ice Cube project

Returning the Piston Bully after a jaunt to the Ice Cube project

Returning the Piston Bully after a jaunt to the Ice Cube project

Fresh ice core sample from 6000 years ago

Fresh ice core sample from 6000 years ago

Following two weeks of fun in the sun with Pat and Lauren in Florida, I started the 4 day journey to Antarctica on the world’s largest plane for the world’s longest flight. The Qantas  A-380 double decker holds close to 500 souls, and 17 hours of flight time left ample time for sleep and 6-8 movies, which I lost track of at some point. We finally landed in Christchurch, New Zealand for a day and a half of orientation, the issuing of extreme weather gear, plus some time for biking, some good Indian and Thai food, plus a run to the grocery store to bring some fruit to the folks further south that haven’t seen a banana in a few months.

The flight on the bone rattling C-130 NY National Guard cargo plane took off the next morning at 9 AM, and a mere 8 hours later we landed on skis on a glacier on Ross Island, the home of 1000 people in the summer at McMurdo research station. Everyone grabbed a late dinner, some linens to go with room assignments and were tucked in a few hours later for a first night’s sleep on the frozen continent.

The next day I was informed that I should pack up to go further inland  to the South Pole, since my dental services were needed there before the flights are halted in a few weeks. That turned into a 4 day wait because of weather delays, so I did a few fillings and a root canal on the locals before flight ops decided that our mission was critical enough to send us off on a modified 1942 DC-3 called a Bassler, which will fly in all sorts of crazy weather. It is unpressurized and requires passengers to wear a nasal cannula delivering oxygen, which is no more uncomfortable than flying with 2 pencils stuck up your nose for 3 hours.

Now that I was going, I became a drug mule for controlled substances to the medical clinic, and a bootlegger for a scotch delivery to a thirsty polie. In four days, I checked everyone’s teeth that needed checked, did a few fillings, and ended with a surgical wisdom tooth extraction on a gentleman that is staying another 9 months in the dark and cold winter months.

That left a day for excursions, so I caught a ride and then was put in the drivers seat of a Piston Bully to the neutrino project called Ice Cube. That was followed by a snow mobile ride to Spice Core, the ice core project pulling up samples from thousands of feet of ice to study the environment trapped in 6000 year old ice. I finished the day at an NOAA research site that is studying the cleanest air on the planet. It was enough science to make my head spin, so a pleasant dinner of lamb chops with mint jelly, vegetables and pecan pie was a welcome end to the afternoon at the bottom of the earth.

Hope your new year is going well and drop a line from life up north.

Cheers,

Bootlegger Bob