Temp -57.1F, Windchill -91.8F
Station Population: 72
Days remaining on ice: 18
Days on the ice: 268
On Monday the 19th we go our first flight in. It was supposed to arrive on the 15th, but they require 3 miles of visibility before they off deck from McMurdo. This seems excessive to me. It is also a rule that seems to bend in direct relationship to the number of days they are behind schedule. Regardless, the first flight came in without incident. Joe and I were up in comms at the time assisting the flight from a communications point of view. Comms is the center of activity when there are inbound flights and that’s where everyone wants to be to get the most up to date information. However, we had to eventually close the door and put of a “Stay Out” sign, since the commotion was starting to interferer with our ability to hear the faint voices in the ether. 16 people got off the plane and 3 winterovers left.
The shock of new people was far less this time than when the transit flight came through. While the plane was on the ground, much of the station was helping to bring in the cargo. The Baslers don’t bring a lot of cargo; just some hand carried bags for the passengers, about 50 lbs of fresh food and a few critical parts we have been waiting for. Regardless, the hand carry bags are a bit too much for most of the new arrival to manage at 11,000 ft and the fresh food needs to get out of the -50F weather before freezing. After the plane departed and the cargo was up in the station, there was group forming in the galley eating the newly arrived fruit. Bananas and Kiwi fruit being the predominate options. There was quite a bit of mingling among the new people and the winterovers. Most of the people that arrived have one or more summers on ice so there wasn’t the complete star struck aw that would accompany completely new person, although there were a few. Some of the new people I recognized from the end of last summer or whom I have corresponded with throughout the winter.
The next morning we had fresh eggs for breakfast. Two fried eggs. Amazing. I really haven’t had too many food craving here. They galley staff did a great job with providing variety and I’m not too fussy about freshness. However, these eggs were a surprise to my pallet that I was not expecting.
The next 3 days were touch and go in terms of flying weather. The visibility would be bad here. Then it would clear up and get bad in McMurdo. Then get bad here again.
On Wednesday, we had the winterover awards ceremony. Each winterover was issued an Antarctica Service Metal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctica_Service_Medal and http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Awards/ANTARCTICA%20SERVICE%20MEDAL1.html. As I understand it, the metal is actually a military decoration that is award to civilians. Also, Steele, the winterover machinist, made each winterover a token that with out names and winterover number on it. My winterover number is 1243 since I’m the 1243rd person to winter at the South Pole. The token is made from metal from each of the South Pole stations. One of the metals from the old Navy station from the 50’s. Another is from the a discarded door frame from the old dome and also some metal that was from the new station.
Finally on Friday, we got our second plane. More or less the same routine, only this time I didn’t have to work the comms and was able to be on the ice for the arrival. This second plane also brought in one of my colleagues. I meet with him and again helped haul cargo into the station. This was a late flight arriving around 7pm. Thus there was only a little milling about before everyone went off to bed.
Attendance was good, but still only about half of the station population of 72 was there. Many of the winterovers are toast and were just to tired to attend and some of the new arrivals were having the same symptoms, but for different reasons.