I have been really excited to go on a helicopter ride – I have never been in a helicopter before. The last helo flight Lee took was during my happy camper training and I couldn’t go with him. It was a successful visit to Lorne AWS (this station was giving us a hard time!), but we did not get a single helo flight since then.
Today we were scheduled to go to Linda. The weather in McMurdo did not improve compared to yesterday, when we did not get to land at Lettau. It is not snowing, but it is really cold and the wind is quite brutal. Unlike Twin Otter flights, helicopters leave you at the sight to do your work and come pick you up after you are done. If the weather changes for the worse, you will not get picked up. I know it happened before to some members of our team.
Lee and I debated whether we even want to try going to Linda, considering high wind conditions and low wind chill factor. The thought of completing another station kept us going. However, once we got to the site the winds increased. Our pilot, Chris, said that it is 25 knots, there was a lot of blowing snow and visibility on the ground was quite poor. Once again Chris asked is we are sure we want to be left out there in the cold for 5 hours with a chance of him not being able to pick us up if the weather gets worse. Weighing in all the returning cargo we had to deal with back in McMurdo and realizing that getting stuck on the icesheet would mean missing all other opportunities this week and potentially our flight back to Christchurch, we decided to go back.
Dealing with cargo in cold wind proved it was the right decision. It would have been brutal out in the field today and I am glad we opted out. Hoping for good weather tomorrow!