Thursday, November 24, 2011

Onward and Upward and Southward.

Bright and early we convened to weigh in for the flight.  We checked in at the Denver airport with a head count of 18 to 20 RPSC employees.  Before leaving Christchurch a number of other groups, mainly project scientists from Universities, we had 80 people on the flight to McMurdo.  Now we are down to 10 or 12 headed for the Pole.  Four of us, Stan, Dianne, Flint and myself were from the original 20. It was a 3 hour flight but seemed longer than the 5 hour one the previous day.  We were sitting on the sides with an on-time departure of 8AM and soon after taking off, they allowed us to move about.  The plane was still slanted upwards.  Turns out it is slanted up, climbing the whole way to the Pole.  At first there were mountains sticking up out of the ice.  Then more and more ice and large glaciers.  And eventually, just ice.  We leveled off about 1/2 hour before landing at 9000+ ft above sea level.

We landed pulling up to the station door, almost.  Flying as cargo, we don't know that until we get out.  But they announce we are at the South Pole and it was quite exhilarating.  I was fumbling with my gear to get the last pieces on following other's examples of putting the big googles on, so I was one of the last off the plane.  The temperature was 27 below zero Fahrenheit with a modest wind.  Stepping down and looking around, recognizing the station from the pictures, heeding the person with the wands, as they did not shut the engines off, I was so excited I was panting at the realization that I had made it.  I was inhaling exhaust from the jet but didn't care.  Finally I had to stop walking so I turned around took a few pictures before reaching the welcoming parting.

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