Both Saturday and Sunday we weren’t able to fly due to bad weather and crew rest, but Monday we got out to our last 2 sites out of WAIS: Theresa AWS and Kathie AWS.
We first flew to Theresa AWS, which was my favorite flight this season! Theresa is located near Horlick Mountains, so we were able to see some mountains along the way.
We landed at the site and it was very windy, maybe 20 kts. Luckily, we only had about 45 minutes worth of work to do because it was a little uncomfortable. Theresa unexpectedly turned off in October, so we assumed it might have been a power issue. Lee checked the battery and solar panel voltage and noted they both were fine, thus we didn’t install a new power system. Then Lee checked the connection from the power to the AWS2B enclosure. He thinks the plug might have gotten loose due to the winds, but he bent it back a little bit and re-plugged it and it worked! We verified a transmission with the Teleonics, and then we headed out to install Kathie.
Once at Kathie, we had nearly perfect weather conditions for an installation. The wind was calm, it was sunny, and the temperatures were about 10 to 15 Fahrenheit. We had 2 extra helpers from camp and 2 pilots, which were super helpful when it came to raising the tower. We got the 20 foot tower up, secured it with the guy wires, and we got all that done in about an hour. Then we finished putting up the last couple of instruments, plugged them all in, and wrapped all the cables. At that point, all we had to do was test for transmission on the Teleonics and it worked! We packed up and got back on the plane again to fly back to WAIS.
On the way back we had to stop at a fuel cache, which was fun because I had never been to one before. The pilots wanted to take out 4 barrels of fuel. We had to dig down to the barrels and then turn them right side up. It took about 30 or 40 minutes to get all of the fuel pumped out, and then we had to load all of the empty barrels back on the plane. We got back to WAIS after a 12 hour day for about 4 hours of work, and 8 hours of flying and fueling.
Lee and I are now done with all the AWS out of WAIS. We are hoping to get back to McMurdo tonight on one of the late night flights. As we all know, it will likely take a couple of tries before that happens. We have at most 1 Snowmoble, 3 Otter, and 3 Helo trips left to complete out of McMurdo. All things considered, we might get fairly close to finishing the rest of work before we leave Antarctica Feb. 13th.