Travel Log: December 13th, 1997

Picture of the Day
Sea ice viewed during
the flight from Christchurch
to McMurdo Station.

DECEMBER 13th, 1997

Three times was a charm for Randy and Janice, as their third attempt to fly out of Christchurch NZ met with success. They arrived at McMurdo Station at about 11pm after an 8 hour flight from New Zealand. There was a record amount of snow at McMurdo, 9 inches fell in the 24 hours preceeeding their arrival. Normally McMurdo receives only a few feet per year!

See also Travel Tales below!

Date/Time: 13 Dec 97 at 23:00 local time
Date/Time: 14 Dec 97 at 10:00 GMT
Location: McMurdo, Antarctica
Weather: sunny at 11pm!
Temperature: no report
Barometric Pressure: no report
GPS latitude: near S 90:00:00
GPS longitude: no report
GPS elevation: no report

Go on to the
next day...

Dec 13th Travel Tales

Janice VanCleave:
The trip from Christchurch to McMurdo finally happened. It was long and tiring. As we approached the coast of Antarctica, tiny specks were first seen in the water. Looked like birds at a far distance, but within minutes, it was obvious that the specks were icebergs. They increased in number and size. At one point the water appeared to be filled with the styrofoam packing peanuts, but then large icebergs were seen. Close to the coastline, huge tabular shaped icebergs were seen.These bergs filled the water with little space between them.

McMurdo was covered with snow, which is unusual this time of year. There had been 9 inches of show that fell the night before our arrival. Remember that only about 12 inches falls here the entire year. The now was beautiful, but caused a great deal of problems with flights. Our plane had difficulty taking off from McMurdo for the pole. On the trip to the pole, mountains were seen and they were buried in ice. Only the tops of the mountains broke through the ice layer. The tops of these mountains had some snow on them, but generally were dark. It is too cold for the ice and snow to melt, so being so dry the strong winds blow the snow off the mountain tops.

Randy Landsberg:
We arrived Sunday night at McMurdo at about 11pm after a 8 hour flight on 03 the LC-130 that was resurrected after being buried in the snow for many years. The flight was uneventful except for my visit to the flight deck and looking out the window at the very end.

We first saw little white specks in the deep blue water that seemed to be whitecaps or something, quickly they became larger and one of the crew members of the Nathanael B Palmer who was on our flight said that they were icebergs. Things quickly changed from non nondescript little blips to huge ice bergs. Most were tabular i.e. large rectangles like a table top. It is an impressive view. Soon the ice almost covered the entire sea. The was an serene beauty in the water the snow and the tranquil flow of the glaciers that we flew over.

The flight deck of the LC130 is much nicer than the cargo area. I went up for a visit once we were over some ice and it is first amazingly bright. There is glass all around, you are at 24,000 feet and we were far enough south that the sun is up almost all day. It also feels like something out of the distant past with the grey-green color and the military feel. There are leather cockpit chairs a navigation station, and zillions of gizmos dials and switches. The pilot was using her GPS and it is almost the same as the one we brought along. It is a more advanced version and she had an external antenna so she was able to use it for the plane, although that was not their primary means of navigation. The plane has a INS (inertial navigation system) which is a very expensive computer and set of sensors that keeps track of all of the plane's movements.

The landing at McMurdo was remarkably smooth. We found ourselves on a large flat white surface with mountains in the distance and bright sunlight despite the late hour. There was a record amount of snow at McMurdo, 9 inches in 24 hours for a place that only gets a few feet a year.