Ice Stories
Exploratorium Home

If All Goes According to Plan…



November 19, 2008
-41 deg F

SOUTH POLE STATION, ANTARCTICA– The Basler plane we’ve been waiting for finally came, from McMurdo, and we were able to load it up and send it off to Camp Winter with cargo. The six of our team members out there will have something to do for the next few days at least, as we sent them the tent that will serve as the garage space for fixing and modifying the vehicles.


Tom and the Basler plane, which has landed in an ice fog.

With any luck — knock on wood, cross your fingers, whatever it takes — we will do one more flight of cargo tomorrow, and then Tom, Lou and I will head out as well in the afternoon. We’ve been working hard here getting everything ready, and are looking forward to joining the others. If all goes according to plan (but really, when does that ever happen), we will have enough room and weight to bring a few treats for the guys that have been out at Camp Winter while we’ve been living the high life at the Pole. We’re hoping the TV can go along, and some food. They’ve been living off of dried food and last year’s frozen left-overs for the last few days.


The Basler, landing in an ice fog.

At this point, after being here at the South Pole long enough, the apprehension I had about what I was getting myself into has passed, and I’m mostly just ready to get to work on the science part of the trip. It’s really not that bad working outside when it is so cold out, and it is no problem to take a break should some body part or another get too cold. Today, for instance, I was working outside strapping cargo onto a pallet in my running shoes since I had been too lazy to put my boots on this morning when I went to breakfast. It was -43 deg outside. After a bit of that, my toes were getting cold, so I just told Lou I needed to run and get my boots. Her fingers were cold in her gloves, so we both took a little break to put on the right kind of clothing. The cargo can wait.


They fit! We had been a little concerned the large doorframes for the tent wouldn’t fit through the Basler door. Of course John had long ago figured out they had…he is well acquainted with planes. We even had the heavy shop on notice in case we were going to have to cut them to get them into the plane.

The guys out at Camp Winter have two of the four vehicles started, and all of the heaters in the modules started. The floor heating system is working, the water melter is working, everything is as ready as it can be. I was joking that we should show up tomorrow carrying lawn chairs and drinks with little paper umbrellas in them, since they have had to do so much of the hard work. Instead, we’re going to bring them some cookies from the wonderful galley and dining room staff, and chip in to help as much as we can.



Tags: , , ,

4 Responses »

  1. hi zoe,

    a correction for you: that plane you call a “Basler” is a DC-3 with an engine
    retrofit by Basler. If you are talking with Mike, the Borek mechanic, you tell him
    that Earl B said so!!

  2. How funny Earl that most people down here call it a Basler, but we stand corrected that it’s a DC-3. We all agree that they are beautiful planes!

  3. I’m quite proud of the fact that they’re called “Baslers” because they’ve been upgraded by Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (home of the EAA). It’s always fun to look in over the face at their site and watch the historic planes being upgraded. In addition switching over to the turboprop engines, they actually extend the fuselage (about 9 feet longer), install larger fuel tanks that double the range, replace all the fabric control surfaces with metal, and do a bunch of other cool stuff to upgrade them. They’re pretty amazing for a plane that first flew in 1936.

  4. A Basler by any other name is just as sweet.