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Antarctic Life: A Look Back At Our Time In the Field, Part 3

The members of our team are now either home or still in the process of making their way there. Looking back at our time in the field here in Antarctica, I want to share some more photos that help illustrate some of my earlier posts and give you a little taste of what life in the field was like.

Journey to the Field: The Last Leg

The journey to our field site at Whillan’s Ice Stream on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was long, with many stops, the last of which was at Siple Dome. From there, it was a matter of getting our selves and equipment out to the ice sheet.

Some of the most important pieces of equipment were, of course, the skidoos — the only things enabling us to travel from camp to our various research sites. So how do you get a skidoo into and out of a small plane? As these pictures show, you drive and lift it, using a ramp, some muscle, and some finesse.

The lift…
The muscle…
And the finesse.

Of course, landing a plane on an ice sheet is an impressive feat by itself. The Basler plane (a DC-3) is the largest bush plane used by the United States Antarctic Program and can land without a runway.

This photo shows how much cargo a Basler plane can hold. Our group had enough cargo to fill three flights.
By the time the Basler returned with the second load of cargo, we had set up the sleep tents. We watched the plane circle once over our camp before landing.
nqk_85_plane.JPGThe Basler created a flurry of blowing snow during takeoff, leaving us windblown and all alone in the flat white, with only our essential survival gear.
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