Just in case you’re wondering why the team hasn’t been posting the last few days, don’t worry; it’s good news. I’ve been in touch with them and they’re just very busy. Here’s some reasons (call them excuses if you want).
- When we put together our schedule for McMurdo we typically front-load it, cramming in as many obligatory meetings and trainings and lectures and stuff as possible at the beginning. We do that because a lot of our tasks in McMurdo are serial; “must meet with X and have training Y before you can begin task Z” kinds of things. Miss a few of the X’s and Y’s early on and delays build quickly. John and Brian take care of these as much as possible, but with a “to do” list incorporating literally hundreds of items, some obligatory for every individual, we have a lot of hurdles to clear.
- This year’s team transitioned from the US to McMurdo really, really fast, a welcome surprise. There’s a huge advantage to being ready earlier than scheduled- our #1 goal is to be “ready to fly”, with everyone fully trained and all cargo in the system. Reaching that point puts us on the flight schedule for real; before that its all speculation. So we hustle to get on that flight schedule as early as possible, and this year being ready early is a real possibility. It takes pressure off everyone in the flight queue, not just us, and given that delayed put-ins are the #1 thing reducing ANSMET’s time in the field, it is a very worthwhile goal.
- Making the hustle even more critical is that we have a flight scheduled (gulp!) TOMORROW! Most of our gear and people will fly to Davis-Ward aboard the Basler, a beautiful plane for our purposes (big enough to carry lots of stuff, small and agile enough to go to difficult places). However, if the Basler can be said to have a weakness it’s that it is a tail-dragger, taking off and landing with its rear-end (and tail wheel) on the ground. In its first few years in Antarctica, a few Basler tails got damaged by snow that can be MUCH harder than it looks, so now landings in the open field require a little preparation. John and one other person will be flying out to Davis Ward via Twin Otter (which isn’t a tail-dragger) with a snow groomer, basically a road grader towed behind a snowmobile, to prepare a runway about a mile (or more) long.. They’ll be out there for about a week , but if the weather is nice they could be done in a few days. As per #2 above, get that strip ready early, you’re ready at both the McMurdo and Davis-Ward ends of the flight, and ANSMET’s work gets a big boost.
So that’s the reason for no blog the last few days- the team is hustling to get all trained and lectured and indoctrinated, and to get John and buddy in the air. I’ve gotten a promise from the team to post something from McMurdo soon, but no pressure. Honestly I’m fine if they’re too busy right now; from my point of view, it’s a sign of great progress.
-posted by Ralph from Cleveland