Travel Log: 01 December 2001

Dateline: 8:23 AM Saturday, 01 December 2001
McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Jason writes:

Yesterday's C-130 transport was an amazing experience. The transport plane was different from any commercial plane that I have been on. Fifty-two of us snugged up in the hold shoulder to shoulder. In order to shoot (roll video tape) I had to literally climb over people to move around as it was a full flight and we were stuffed in pretty tightly.

The high point for me was being allowed to shoot in the cockpit as we approached the continent. I came from the dark hold, where only a dozen or so small round portholes allowed light in, to the bright flight deck which had a glass-paneled panoramic view. It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust, and when they did, it was a visual feast. The view was amazing!

Overall it was white. I could see streaks of blue below us where the ice was breaking up to reveal ocean, and then solid white in front of us as far as the horizon, which then transitioned into a super blue sky. This is Antarctica.

As we flew further I could see structure. White mountains with folds and striations rose out of the blanket of ice. This is good material for High Definition Video! Needless to say I was ecstatic.

The plane was equipped with skis and we had a very smooth landing on the ice runway at McMurdo. After a good night's rest we are waiting for a flight to Pole.

Our Pole flight has been deemed an alternate mission, which means we will only get a flight to Pole today if another flight is canceled. I've heard that three planes have been sidelined due to mechanical problems, so the schedule is getting a little gummed up. We're hoping for today, but it's looking like were going to fly Monday.

Jason and ErebusThat's OK - this will give me a chance to shoot some scenes of McMurdo Base. Mcmurdo is like a cross between a blue collar ski resort and a mining town, with lots of scientists, workers, and Air Force / National Guard pilots walking around. The base is built into a little hill, and in front of it lies the frozen Ross Sea, on which the ice runway is built. On the other side of this are some mountains, and the volcano Mt. Erebus - all interesting things to shoot.

I've gotta go - we have to check on our flight - I'll get back to you from Pole.

Dateline: 2:30 PM Saturday, 01 December 2001
McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Weather: 32°F, sunny

Randy writes:

LC130We did not make it to Pole today as planned because no planes went to Pole. Our next chance is on Monday. So we have a weekend here in McMurdo which is not a terrible thing. This morning we went out to the ice runway in an attempt to film a LC-130 taking off. We were there for the take off, but the wind shifted and at the last minute it switched to a different runway, so we missed it. In a week they will shut down the ice runway and move the whole operation, buildings and all, over to to Williams Field.

ErebusIt is incredibly beautiful out on the sea ice. There are mountains and glaciers in all directions. Mt. Erebus the volcano had a nice plume of smoke today and we took a lot of photos of it. We also spotted some wildlife including a skua, which is a bird similar to a sea gull and some seals. The seals were far away and we saw them with the telescope from the Creary library. They didn't do much but sit there and wiggle their flippers.

Scott's HutBefore lunch we walked over to Scott's Hut which is a less than a mile from the center of McMurdo. Scott's Hut is incredibly well preserved considering how old it is. Jason and Vivian are doing some filming there now while I download pictures and send email. We have signed up for a tour of the ice caves tonight but we do not know if we will be able to go, as a lot of people are ahead of us on the list.

Vivian's sister Amy suggested another name for the penguin: Sphen, short for Sphenisciformes, the taxonomic order that comprises penguins.

The CARA bear and anonymous penguin (Waddles? Percy? Sphen?) have been busy making friends, touring McMurdo base and visiting Scott's Hut:

Penguins McMurdo Animals at Scott's Hut

Some views of McMurdo Base and Discovery Point:
McMurdo Discovery Point

Go on to the
next day...