At Byrd Camp!

December 15th, 2011 by Maria-Jose Viñas

By Lora Koenig

Byrd Camp (Antarctica), December 7 — At 4:45 PM today we boarded another Delta for a ride to Pegasus field. The last weather report we had for Byrd Camp was for half-mile visibility and 40-knot winds with blowing snow. The conditions were predicted to continue to deteriorate, so I expected the flight to be canceled. When we arrived Pegasus we saw our gear being loaded on an LC-130 flown by the 109th Air Wing. We also saw a plane taxiing to the skiway that was headed to WAIS Divide camp, which is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Byrd. So when we say that plane take off, we knew we had a good chance of getting into Byrd.

Our team in the back of the Delta, looking out the windows at our gear being loaded on the LC-130.

The forklift transporting two of our snowmobiles and nine 55-gallon drums of fuel to the plane.

The forklift loading our pallets in the back of the LC-130.

We took off at around 8 PM for the 3-hour flight to Byrd. Jessica got to ride in the cockpit for take-off. During the flight, we looked out the windows into clouds for most of the time, but at one point the Ross Ice Shelf was visible and we saw a large crack in the ice shelf, which was exciting to see though I do not know anything about the science behind it. I will ask and expert in a few weeks and get back to you with more information about the crack.

All of our gear packed on the LC-130. We had 5 pallets of gear altogether!

The red radar box (back). It has made its way from Kansas all the way to LC-130 pallet. Soon it will be on its sled.

Crack seen in the Ross Ice Shelf on our plane ride to Byrd.

A view from the cockpit of the LC-130.

We arrived Byrd Camp around 11:00 PM. After we landed, all of our cargo was combat off-loaded. A combat off-load is when they open the back of the LC-130 and send the palettes out the back with a swift kick and a sudden acceleration of the plane. This method is very rough on our gear and we will have to double-check everything again to make sure nothing is broken. One of my constant reminders to the team is, “Don’t break anything”:  We have to fix anything we break and we may not have the parts. So combat off-loading of gear makes me very nervous, but we didn’t have any other choice. And it is actually really fun to see the combat off-loads if you forget that it is your gear.

Here are some pictures of the combat off-load:

Our gear, about to get kicked.

Our gear leaving the plane much quicker than it came in by fork lift!

Our gear on the snow.

Here is a picture of the team finally in the field.

Our team arrives at Byrd Camp. From left to right: Clem, Ludo, Lora, Randy, Jessica, and Michelle.

Walking into Byrd camp from the LC-130 at the skiway.

We had a quick tour of Byrd Camp and then went to tent city to our tents to sleep for the night. I was warm all night but others were a bit cold on their first night in their tents. We are finally ready to start the science!

Clem, excited to finally be in the field.

My gear all lined up in my tent.

My home for my time at Byrd Camp, very cozy!

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2 Responses to “At Byrd Camp!”

  1. Bridget Davis says:

    You guys are awesome! I enjoy your blogs…I am both thrilled and honored to share in your adventures and research this way. Keep up the good work!

Notes from the Field