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22 November, 2002

Going to McMurdo

I'm writing from a crowded bench seat in the hold of a "Kiwi" C-130. The American C-130's were out of service, so the New Zealand Air Force is flying us down. Have I mentioned recently how great the Kiwi's are? A C-130 is a 4-turboprop cargo plane that was not designed with comfort and passengers in mind. Dr. Dean Eppler, a member of our team was heard saying that the reason the Army uses C-130's for paratrooper training is that it is preferable to jump from one than to stay in one very long. It's hard to put my emotions into words, only that my body feels like I bought the cheap seats at a baseball doubleheader.

We woke to a rainy morning in Christchurch, but were relieved last night to hear that our flight had been delayed from 6:00AM to 9:00AM. Nonetheless, many of us woke at a very early hour simply out of anxiety and excitement.

As we exited the shuttle to the airport, Dr. Danny Glavin commented to me that he was a little anxious about the flight. I think Danny spoke for all of us, and I know I felt better knowing I wasn't the only one.

The next few hours consisted of "hurry up and wait." We dressed in our ECW (extreme cold weather) gear and waited until afternoon to board the airplane. Apparently, something had to be fixed, which didn't settle my nerves.

The C-130 has few windows but occasionally we have the opportunity to get glimpses through the clouds of icebergs. We seem to have a ritual where we stand and stretch every hour on the hour. This is about a 7 hour flight and would be longer if our C-130 were ski-equipped like the American version.

I hope tonight is restful, but I have no way of knowing what to expect until we arrive...

Antarctica from the C-130.

Antarctica from the air.

Ice from the C-130.

Dante Lauretta doning earplugs.

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