On the Ice

Another week of flights!

This past week started out a little slow to get a break from the physical work we did last week and to prep for the incoming week. The weather was good to us again this week and was decently warm for here! Our AWS named Alexander Tall Tower! is about 100 ft tall and has 6 main levels of instrumentation. It requires riggers to check and maintain the safety of the tower as well as climb it for us to do raises of the instruments. They were able to get out on 21 Nov. to do the checks. Since we had also planned to dig out the batteries, they offered to start that process if they had time, which was very nice of them. They had time to dig and were able to dig down to not only our battery case but two of the cases for UNAVCO’s GPS system! Impressive work and much of a surprise when Troy, our pilot, showed us pictures the next day.

Our battery case for Alexander Tall Tower! – blowing snow had started after they dug (picture courteous of Troy).

We were then able to go out with them on 24 Nov. to finish digging and guide the riggers where the instruments should go. We brought along Erika from UNAVCO so she could check on their system (and help dig it out) and I decided to ask for the full rigger team of 6 instead of 4 because I knew lifting those batteries would be a lot of work. It turned out to be a great decision to bring more people as we were all doing something almost the whole time! We were able to get all power systems to the surface and rewired properly. The riggers were only able to get two booms raised as it took longer than they expected, but they thought of a different way to finish up the work and redo the cable management for future work on the station. We will try to get out with them again this year to finish the raise.

All the riggers working together to raise a boom.
All extra hands on deck for chipping out the ice between UNAVCO’s battery cases!

On 25 Nov. we got out to Lorne AWS – our first helo ride this season! It was Angie’s first time in a helicopter at all, so it was very exciting. We knew there was some digging involved, but we ended up with a much deeper hole than anticipated! It was nearly 6 ft deep and it was only us digging it all out. There was a storm expected to roll in back in McMurdo, so we knew we would have to get back in a timely matter, but it looked like the clouds were coming in faster than anticipated. We ended up needing to cut our time short because of this and only had time to raise the enclosure and solar panel. Still successful for an easier raise next visit!

Angie in the hole after we got the battery case out at Lorne AWS!
Lorne AWS after servicing

It was also Thanksgiving this week and McMurdo celebrates on the following Saturday, so this year it was 26 Nov. We had a nice meal and sat with the twin otter and helo pilots and flight crew! We were by far the largest table at the 7:00pm serving time and it was nice to eat with friendly, familiar and new faces. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving wherever you spent it!

Let’s see what this coming week brings!


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