WHILLANS ICE STREAM, WEST ANTARCTICA– We landed at our field site after a three hour flight from McMurdo Station. We arrived on what is called a Basler. This plane is a modified DC-3 and was built in the the 1950s. Climbing out of the plane we were in a white flat expanse. We were lucky: the weather was ideal, sunny and calm winds. After unloading our gear, two snowmobiles, three drums of fuel and survival gear (tents, food and clothing), it was time for the plane to leave.
Part of the safety protocol is to have the field party pitch one tent before the plane can leave. This is in case something happens, weather or injury, there can be a haven out of the elements. In certain scenarios, it might just be the difference between life in death.
As you’ll see, we pitched our tent much too close to the plane and we were bowled over by the force of the propellers. Moments later the plane disappeared into a cloud of snow. Silence and we were alone.
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