Monday, October 30, 2006

Full circle

It's now been 9 days since our scheduled station opening day and we still don't have a plane. On Saturday, the best weather we've had so far, they cancelled our flights before I even did the radio check-in a little before 7am. The reason: "mechanical problems" for BOTH planes scheduled to fly here. It also coincided with the night of the biggest party in McMurdo, the legendary Halloween party and apparently the Air Guard boys don't like to miss that one. See Brien's cynical interpretation of that one in Vicavag.

With this delay, my time on the ice is coming full circle. I flew down to Antarctica for the very first time in October 2002. I was the greenest of green FNGs, bursting with excited enthusiasm at this once in a lifetime opportunity (little did I know back then). I was in the second wave of people to swarm in and after they got their first plane in and opened the station, the weather got socked in at McMurdo, then Pole, then McMurdo, etc. In the end, we were stuck there for 10 days, getting up early each morning and reporting to the MCC to check in for the flight, sometimes getting transported out to the runway, only to head back after waiting for several hours of delays until they cancelled the flight. My group managed to make 2 attempts to fly here but ended up boomeranging both times. One of the biggest disappointments has to be returning to McMurdo after you thought you've escaped.

Meanwhile, there were some very toasty winterovers who were more than ready to leave South Pole and were also stuck there for longer than they wanted. I suppose that they, like us, made the most of the situation. But after one of our boomerangs actually flew over the station, then turned around and headed back because they couldn't land, those disbelieving toasty winterovers got their frustrations out.

They made an impressive LC-130 pinata, complete with old CDs for the turning props.

Photos courtesy Robert Schwarz

They all took turns trying to bash the hell out of it at a Halloween party out at Summer Camp lounge but found that the duct tape was a little too sturdy. They ended up taking a chain saw to it before they finally got their revenge on that damn plane that wouldn't land.

I know exactly how they were feeling 4 years ago because that's exactly how we're all feeling right now. How do you make a pinata of the weather?


At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You write very well at the best of times, but frustration with C-130s probably makes you write even better!

So sorry to hear of the continuing freeze.

I look forward to notes from a warmer climate.



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