30 August, 2003 Rothera
written by Andrew Porte
August has been a month of mixed emotions. As July ended and August started the base team was still trying to comprehend and come to terms with the loss of Kirsty. The initial shock was starting to ease and preparations to allow the Dash-7 to get in had started and were providing a much needed distraction for everyone.
Most people on the base had a lot to complete before the plane would be able to fly in. The Vehicle Mechanics (Chris and Iain) had their work cut out to clear the runway and apron of four months worth of snow. Along with work on the apron and runway there was also the hangar which had to be emptied. In the summer this is not normally a problem, during the winter though it’s a cracking place to park all the machines, trailers and other bits and bobs, not forgetting of course it’s the badminton court. It’s really easy to forget how much space these things require, and best of all when we did get the plane in there all the vehicles had to be squeezed in around it again.
To read about the strange world of the snow blowing Vehicle Mechanics click here.
Other work on the runway required that the runway lights were cleared and prepared. These lights are used to give the pilots an indication of where the runway starts and finishes as well as information on the angle of approach to the landing point. It was back aching work at times and involved digging out the drums that cover them, checking that the lights were working and then putting the drums back to stop any new snow from covering them. But with the help of a few willing souls it was soon finished. Once all the checks had been completed we only needed to take off the drums when the aircraft was on its way.
In the end after a week of long days the runway had been cleared and everything was in place for the arrival of the Dash-7. All we needed was some good weather that would allow it to get in, and this being the Antarctic winter we may have been in for a bit of a wait. Luckily the met team (Adam and Rich F) must have had a favour owed by the big man upstairs and so the day after we had finished the aircraft arrived in the Falkland Islands and it was good enough for it to fly south.
The Dash-7 arrival brought some new faces to the station. Most of the visitors had all been south before which helped, as we had got to know them well during the previous summer season. The aircrafts arrival was certainly met with some degree of mixed emotion, everyone was pleased to see it arrive safely, however this was tempered by sadness because of why it had come.
With the planes return, one of the happier moments that gave us all a lift was to receive post from friends and loved ones back home, as well as the welcome luxury of some fresh fruit and veg.
During the twenty-four hour period they were here, the visiting team were supportive and understanding and when they departed the following morning it was almost as if the only evidence of them being here were the tyre tracks that disappeared two thirds the way up the runway.
A week on the night shift. Written by Issy Gerrard.
To read about nights click here
A new found love of Ski’s. Written by Eric Thornthwaite.
To read about Eric skiing click here
By Andrew Porte
Pictures by winter 2003 team