By God the plane landed yesterday! The first one touched down on the snow at 11:00am and unloaded some very relieved summer folks who had been stranded in McMurdo for longer than we had been planeless at Pole.
A group of 18 of us got on the second plane that landed just over an hour later. We had a lot of rushed hellos and goodbyes, all the while cramming in bites of fresh apples, oranges, plums and bananas. The first attempt at taking off was a little sketchy as we roared all the way down the skiway before the pilot slammed on the brakes, then turned around and tried it again. We were a little nervous but eventually we did feel the plane lift off and there were big smiles all around.
Three hours later, we stepped out onto the frozen sea ice of McMurdo's Ice Runway, hopped into the shuttle van (my first car ride since January) and were deposited at the front door of building 155. Last night was a nice celebration in Gallagher's, one of the bars here, with relief that we actually made it out and were on our way finally to places beyond Pole.
If all goes well, we'll get on the C-17 that will take us back to Christchurch and the outside world again. To my friends back at Pole, I hope you guys make it out soon - let's meet up for some brews at Dux!