Halley Diary — December 2005

31 December, 2005 Halley

New faces

At the beginning of the month with the arrival of the aeroplanes new people come to Halley.

Basler DC3

The first arrivals to break the Winter isolation were the Russian/Canadians who came in November in the Basler DC3 aircraft.

New Arrivals

The first BAS aeroplane VPBB finally arrived in the evening just after fog rolled in. Bringing Ant, Dave, Pat, Fiona, Phil and Ben. Margaritas all round in bar to celebrate. This is the first time the BAS plane arrived before the Germans (but not the Russians/Canadians).

VPFBB Returns From Neumayer

The next day Ant takes the twin otter and collects DJ and Martin Bell from Neumayer who came in via Novo/South Africa.

The South African Connection

The Ilyushin 76TD cargo/passenger aircraft flies between Cape Town South Africa and Novo (Novolazarevskaya) and is operated by the Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI). A feeder flight between Novo and Neumayer uses the Antonov AN2 or the Basler aircraft. Both planes are of a similar vintage circa 60 years old. The final leg is usually by a BAS twin Otter to Halley.

DJ on the Piggott

DJ is the Piggott science coordinator for the first half of the Summer season.

VPFBC Touchdown

This was quickly followed by the second twin otter VPFBC flown by Ian Potten with Simon Herniman the new Halley GA.

German Touchdown

And the Germans arrive. This year they only had one aircraft Polar 2. Last year Polar 4 was damaged in a bad landing at Rothera and is unlikely to fly again.

Leaving Halley

The arrival of the BAS aeroplanes start the first departures of the winterers.

Gareth and Jamie were the first two Winterers to leave Halley. They left on the first Twin Otter flight out of Halley.

Ian moved on to the Shackleton at the beginning of relief both Ian and Petra left with the ship after relief.


Cargo is unloaded from the Shackleton on to the sea ice and towed on to the ice shelf up groomed ramps on sledges pulled by snow cats. This year in the beginning of December the sea ice blew out of the local creeks. After skidoo trips to the local creeks and aerial surveys of the creeks It was determined that the only workable creek was N9, which is 50Km away from Halley.

Here the Shackleton is moored alongside the sea ice and there is a wide natural ramp up to the top of the ice shelf.

Simon the new winter GA spent most of his relief persuading people not to have their photo taken standing next to this leopard seal.

Twin Otter providing cargo support to and from N9 back to Halley; Making 6 to 8 runs a day. Which is equal to 2 sledge runs it completed 24 round trips all with cargo and transporting winterers to the ship for dental checks some people escaped with no work required. The number of hours it has saved on the ground driving son-cats back and forth is estimated at around 144 hours. This meant that relief was completed before the New Year and the works and science programs could start according to plan.

Field Operations

December is the month of change at Halley with preparation for the new arrivals and relief. The drewry move went so smoothly and quickly this year you would hardly noticed it had happened. With the arrival of the Twin Otters field operations begin This involves collecting data from LPMs and LPRs and the decommissioning the old AGO sites.

Halley air supported field operations start here at the Halley Ski way The exceptionally straight line of the ski way drum line is due to Gareth and Dan and this early in the season the flat groomed surface is provided by Dave, Ben or Martin

Demolished – Roger and Alex had the job of cleaning up old BAS field sites This involved raising buried fuel drums Decommissioning AGOs. If you like hard work, camping, the cold and visiting exotic places in the Antarctic this is the job for you.

On the return from A84 it was not possible to land at Halley due to poor visibility so the plane landed 18Kms away near the Windy caboose and stayed the night.

The Winterers Group Photo

The clocks going forward 3 hours gave use extra time for a “Kill Bill” cinema big screen double bill and a final attempt at taking a winterers photo success at last.


A 40 knot blow we had early in the month not only blew the Dartcom dome away (not for the first time) but also blew away the sea ice at the creeks making the emperor penguins homeless and fixing the relief site at N9.

The Dartcom receives satellite images in the visible light, Infrared and one that shows water vapour and low cloud. These can be combined into a composite colour image. The images can be overlaid with place names, latitude and longitude lines and outline of the Antarctic plateau.

The Dartcom images enable the cloud cover and contrast to be estimated at the remote sites visited by the aircraft this saves journeys to sites which it is not possible to land due to poor contrast or visibility This in turn saves aircraft/pilot flying hours and fuel.

End Of An Era – Goodbye To Alpine One’s At Halley

The last of the general base use alpine one skidoos slipped out of Halley almost unnoticed during relief. Due to difficulty obtaining spares the decision has been made to retire them but they will be remembered particularly for their ease of starting in the winter and small size.

Jeff Cohen