Thursday, October 2, 2008


Well, "Springfly" is all but over. Normally the first flight after the long winter is called Winfly, as is the following period of time until "Mainbody", when the summer season is officially over.

This season is different. The winfly flight in August was cancelled, and our reinforcements came in for springfly in September instead. Winfly was supposed to end on September 30th with the arrival of the first mainbody flight. We've had a bit of weather lately, so the first flight is now four days late.

If weather is perfect, a planeload of people arrive in Christchurch, to depart on the Air Force C-17 a day or two later. When the flight is delayed, it dumps more people in NZ that can't leave. I heard today that there are 480-some folks backed up in "Cheech". Not good.

Twice, the flights have actually taken off, and "boomeranged". They get part of the way down, and the weather doesn't look promising for a landing, so they fly back to Cheech. In the days when folks flew down on C-130s, a boomerang flight could be over eight hours. A friend of mine here boomeranged for five days in a row. Yikes. And that's sitting crammed in a cargo plane with no windows.

The C-17s are actually very nice-- my ride down here was better than commercial travel. A boomerang on a C-17 is probably only 3-4 hours, because they're so much faster.

The irony is that often they call off the flight, or boomerang it, and the weather turns out to be gorgeous. Like today. It is a beautiful, sunny day with little wind. A calm day here is unusual, and very welcome. The picture above was taken out my office window, about noon. That area is called the VXE-6 transition, named after the old military support wing that operated here before us civilians took over. The transition is the shore of the sea ice. We stage equipment there, such as seal huts, fish huts, snowmachines-- things like that.

Right now the huts for the NPX traverse are out there. Pretty soon a fleet of big tractors towing sleds will head out for the pole. The trailers have big bladders full of jet fuel for pole. Before the traverse, pole station got all of their fuel by pumping it out of overfueled C-130s. Very expensive way to move fuel. The new guys from my shop have been putting radios, GPS units, and Iridium phones in the huts and heavy equipment down at the transition.

Speaking of radios, I had better get back to work...

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