8 January, 1999
January 8th, 1999, Christchurch, NZ
We made it this time on the scheduled Hercs but of course not without obstacles. After we arrived at the CDC at 5:15 and went to the routine of getting into our EWC, weighing the baggage and us, receiving the passenger pass, we were also receiving safety instructions on how to behave on the army plane and what to do upon arrival at the Antarctica. Then followed more waiting time in the passenger waiting area. At 8 a.m. we found out that the pilot had an ear infection (I could sympathize with him) and we were asked to go back to CDC, to come back at 10 a.m. and to receive further instructions. A new crew was ordered for us. It was time for breakfast. 10 a.m.: we had a new crew with a healthy pilot and departure time was announced to be 2pm. So it was and it was exciting getting on the plane. We were hoping that we did not have to return.
All 30 passenger: scientists and army members were brought to the plane by bus. An army member collected the passenger passes and another member handed us ear plugs. Bryan gave me before a very useful present: heavy duty ear muffs. We were advised to have books, cameras, water... in our coat and easy accessible. The "Carry On" was strapped town, we received a lunch package and we took our seats on canvas benches in four rows, two rows facing each others, similar to any other army plane. The back of the plane was full with cargo. The South Pole is near the beginning of the winter season and each plane would also bring a load of equipment.
Getting our seat belts secured was the first challenge. Our heavy coats made any movement difficult. We had little space to move. However, we all got settled quickly and the Hercs took off with a lot of noise. During the duration of the 8 ½ hr flight, all communication had to be done with hand signs which , I thought, was fun. There was plenty of time to read, eat, sleep and drink lots of water. The temperature inside the plane fluctuated tremendously and at times I had all of my winter gear on including hat and mittens. Some of us found space to curl up on the floor to take a nap. What a flight this was!
Since it turned not dark at the outside even after POT, we knew we were surely heading towards the Antarctic. How exciting!! The big adventure has began. At 10:30p.m. (Antarctica is using New Zealand time) we arrived in McMurdo, ANTARCTICA. We landed in Williams Field which is located on the permanent ice sheet. Early in the season different planes can land on the sea ice which becomes too thin to land on during the Antarctic summer months. since the road to McMurdo could not be used we were brought to "town" via helicopters. What a treat!!
The weather was glorious . Bright sun shine no clouds, the temperature was about minus 3 Celsius. I could not get enough of the scenery. Bryan and I hoped to have a few days in McMurdo and maybe have a chance to see some penguins . However, we learned at a very short meeting, that we have to check in our bags for the South Pole right then ( this is also called "bag dragging" ) and be ready to leave at 7:15 a.m.. We got our keys for our rooms. I was staying at the "Hotel California" , a dormitory. My room had two beds but I was the only "guest" so far. I made my bed and off we were checking in our bags. It was 11:30 p.m.. After that some of us met for a midnight meal. The cafeteria was packed!!
No way that I could go to bed. So we went on a little 'sight seeing' tour through McMurdo in bright sun shine. I slept only for two hours.
Last journal's question was about the location of McMurdo. It is located on Ross Island, near the Ross Ice Shelf. Do you know where the names Ross and McMurdo come from?
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