On the Ice

Visit to Ferrell AWS

Yesterday (on Wednesday, 12/12/12) Lee and I made the helo trip to Ferrell to remove instrumentation from Ferrell. The trip was successful, but there were a couple delays along the way. In this post I’ll talk 1) briefly of the weather and 2) about our visit to Ferrell AWS.

1) The weather has been mostly cloudy (some sunny spells here and there) with temperatures hovering around 30F for the past couple days, and it is like that this morning as I write this. Lee and I had originally planned to visit Ferrell on Tuesday, but low clouds and fog resulted in our visit being pushed back to Wednesday; the visibility was too poor for the helicopter, as the surface definition was not high enough (it’s very difficult to land if the pilot doesn’t know where the surface of the snow is).

At Ferrell AWS yesterday, the weather in general was great. Calm winds, fairly warm, and mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. Back in McMurdo, the low clouds (I think) dominated the weather for most of yesterday.

The winds have generally been light and variable around McMurdo, and only a few occasional flurries have made their way to the surface in the past few days.

2) At around 11:15 am yesterday, we departed McMurdo on the helo for Ferrell AWS (right on schedule). Everything was going smoothly, and after about 20 minutes we arrived at the coordinates which we thought denoted the location of Ferrell. The AWS, however, was nowhere to be seen. We landed there to get our bearings and radio back to Mac Ops for assistance. We had them look up the coordinates of Ferrell online for us. After another 20 minutes or so, we found Ferrell. Our initial landing was about 4 miles off. (We will need to get updated coordinates to helo ops.)

After that delay, Lee and I got all our stuff off the helo and got to work. Here is are a couple pictures of Ferrell and Ferrell II before any of our work.

Ferrell AWS, upon arrival

Ferrell II AWS, upon arrival

As mentioned earlier, the purpose of our visit here was to remove the instrumentation on Ferrell. Here are a couple pictures proving that we did that 🙂

Me removing the enclosure

Lee ridding Ferrell of its solar panel

As you may have guessed, Ferrell looked pretty plain after we removed everything:

Ferrell, after we removed all instrumentation

We had given ourselves three hours’ time to do this work, and we completed it in just one. We radioed in to helo ops to request an early pickup. They said they could, which was great! Lee and I relaxed and enjoyed the pleasant weather while we waited.

Unfortunately, when the helo arrived at around 3 pm, the pilots said there was some mechanical repairs needed on the transmission. We had to wait for a helo with the mechanic to come, and that wasn’t going to be for another two hours. So what was going to be an early return turned into a late one. The two pilots, Lee, and I waited in the injured helo, napping, snacking, and reading, until the mechanic came.

Luckily, the repair only took about 20 minutes and we were able to take the now-repaired helo back to McMurdo. We returned at around 7 pm, just in time to catch dinner.

Despite the delays, the trip was a successful one, and we can scratch Ferrell off the list of stations we need to visit this season.

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