On the Ice

Jan 7: A Tale of Broken Planes

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were days of delays and cancellations. Monday we got cancelled to go to Nascent AWS due to weather all over the Ross Ice Shelf. We spent the rest of the day packing up and organizing to fly to WAIS the next day. Tuesday we woke up early to transport to the airfield, but we got delayed due to weather. Then we left for transport at 11am to depart at 1pm. This seemed to be just in time for the visibility to decrease to less than a mile, but in any case we all boarded the LC-130. Lee and I got to sit upstairs in the cockpit, which was exciting!

Cockpit of the LC-130

Cockpit of the LC-130

Then we started to taxi, but it seemed like we were taxiing for a long time. After about 15 minutes, I saw one of the pilots take off his seat belt, so I knew we weren’t going anywhere. The plane stopped and then the pilot explained that one of the skis wasn’t aligned properly, so he didn’t feel comfortable taking off. Then we got back on the shuttles and headed back to McMurdo.

Wednesday we woke up early again and then we were weather delayed in the morning. This time we were scheduled to leave at 6pm, so I had a relatively boring day in McMurdo. We got to the airfield and then got on the LC-130 at about 5:30pm. Luckily, the planes to WAIS are relatively empty and there were only 10 passengers.

LC-130's at Williams Field Runway

LC-130’s at Williams Field Runway

The plane taxied and got up in the air for about 15 minutes. Then the load masters in the passenger area were telling us that we had to turn back around because the altimeter broke. We landed again at Williams Field and got to hangout on the plane for about 20 minutes while they fixed the altimeter. Since we flew around for a bit, they had to refuel again before we left. We were shuttled off the plane at that point, and we were told we would be trying to fly again after they refueled. We noticed that the plane wasn’t moving to refuel. At that point I figured there was bad weather at WAIS. Sure enough, after another 20 or 30 minutes of waiting we were told the flight was cancelled. After 5 hours at the airfield we got back to town. I couldn’t be too upset since I got to take a shower and I didn’t have a roommate 🙂

We will be trying to go again at 6pm tonight!



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