Waiting at Mac Town

Waiting for the scroll to change

Waiting for news of our flight to South Pole; news was not forthcoming, nor, in the end, what we wanted to hear. Saturday.

And so here we are! Antarctica! McMurdo Station aka Mac Town. Scheduled for flight P002, the second flight of the season for the South Pole Station. Flight P001 has flown there and back. And here we are.

Several things have to go right for us to get the the South Pole. I think the three most important are:

  • We have an airplane. That would be one of the the two Hercules, and sorry, but I don’t know any more plane-talk than that.
  • We have good weather, all the way from McMurdo to South Pole.
  • We have priority for the plane.

On Saturday, there was a plane, good weather, and .. someone else had priority. The flight to WAIS — and no, I don’t know what that is — was the primary, and we were secondary. We would have to get ourselves and all our gear [well .. more later on that ..] out to the departure point by 9:00 to get loaded up, on the plane, and out to pole. Mind you, it’s not unusual to get to the South Pole, have had a change in the weather, and boomerang back to McMurdo. And that’s us, probably even after 9:00, looking at what we might call an informational screen, waiting to see our status. And on the screen, it says it was last updated at 19:08 last night, so as far as we are concerned, we still might fly.

Weather at South Pole is still not great. Weather at WAIS is still not great, but in the end it was good enough to get then off the ground, and leave us here on Saturday. And no flights go on Sunday, so at least Monday. And bad weather moving in to South Pole, so maybe not Monday. But I expect a very similar scene tomorrow at 8:00, with all of us waiting for the screen.

There’s a flight tomorrow morning out of Hobart, bringing 50 people to McMurdo, who will have priority to — I think — Byrd Station. I think the logistics of having 50 new folks here at Mac Town are a big part of the driving force to get them bounced out as soon as possible.

All us polies are tourists in a town with some attraction, but really not a lot to do. We all signed on for Pole, and that’s where we all want to be. There is only one group more interested in our Herc going to South Pole, and that’s the winter-overs, who have been there for nine months with P001 their first contact for the last nine or so months. They get to start leaving soon, but they need the Herc. I don’t think a lot of population goes out on our flight — the jobs need to be handed off, and they have to get used to people again. P001 and P002 are going to be new faces. They also just got the first fresh food they’ve seen for that long, other than some salad greens from the greenhouse. Part of our instructions are that we can’t eat the fresh fruit and vegetables until we get the all-clear; all the freshies go to the winter-overs. I’m fine with that.

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4 responses to “Waiting at Mac Town

  1. Can’t quite read the SAFETY and SPILLS details on the whiteboard in the photo. Does it say “Nobody frozen to death since ” ?

  2. As a wise pilot once announced while I was waiting at the gate: I’d rather be on the ground wishing I was flying than flying wishing I was on the ground.

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