Sunday, November 27, 2011

En route to Fletcher Glacier, Antarctica

I’ve already mentioned Fossil Bluff, which is a fuel depot about 225 miles south of Rothera. Beyond that is another depot called Sky Blu, which is about 450 miles south, at a latitude of 75 degrees. Sky Blu has a blue-ice runway which allows not only the Twin Otters to land but also the Dash 7 (larger planes, able to carry greater loads). These two camps enable field parties (known as Sledge Parties) to reach a massive area within north-west Antarctica. Both Fossil Bluff and Sky Blu have to be manned at all times during the summer season to provide constant weather information for the pilots and to provide safety cover for landing, refueling, and taking-off.

I knew I was to be heading out to Fossil Bluff to help man it for a few days so on Sunday morning I had my radio on standby, waiting for the call.

“Andy B, Andy B? This is Clem.”
“Go ahead, Clem.”
“Hi Andy, we’re ready to move the detonators onto the plane now.”
“Thanks Clem, I’ll get everyone ready”.
Goodness, I thought to myself, I wonder what poor people will be flying out on that plane.
“Rosey, Rosey? This is Andy B. Can you get your stuff together and make your way over to the hanger?”. Ah.
It turned out that a field party near Sky Blu needed to blow some things up, and that the plane going there needed a co-pilot, and since I was heading out to Fossil Bluff anyway-- so that Sunday, I got to make the most amazing flights around the Peninsula, flying Rothera-Fossil Bluff-Sky Blu-Sledge Party Quebec-Sky Blu-Fossil Bluff.

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