Monday, December 19, 2011

En route to Rothera, Antarctica

Towards the end of December Tamsin, Doug-the-pilot and I went out on one more intrepid science related adventure. We flew my furtherst south yet, onto the Ronne ice shelf and to the practically named "Site 8" weather station. Site 8, like Butler Island, is vast and white in all directions. We had been working there for several hours when three pure white snow petrals flew down and circled around us. It was incredible to see them out in the middle of Antarctic nothingness. They look so delicate but they must be incredibly hardy to survive out there.

By the time we had finished work at Site 8 it was too late to make it back to Rothera so we flew north and stopped the night at Fossil Bluff, where despite the late hour, we were welcomed into Bluebell cottage with cold beers, a beautiful dinner and an incredible sunset over the main land. The next morning we radioed into Rothera to get a weather report. We were informed that a Dash 7 was flying to Rothera, due in in several hours time. Because the Dash don't have skis they always take priority over every other plane, as they can only land on the Rothera runway. Once the Dash has called PNR (point of no return), the runway is out of bounds to any other aircraft. Consequently, we had no other choice but to spend the morning lazing in the sunshine at Fossil Bluff. While we waited we were joined by a second Twin Otter. As soon as the Dash touched down at Rothera, we were on our way, flying home in tandam, with Al and Gav.

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