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Sky Blu

Location: Sky-Blu Logistics Facility

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Melon huts at Sky Blu.

Sky-Blu is an area of blue ice situated close to Sky-Hi Nunataks suitable for use as an ice runway for wheeled aircraft. Sky-Blu became fully operational as a logistics facility in 1997-98 when an earlier high altitude depot at Sky-Hi Nunataks was abandoned.

The groomed blue ice runway is up to 1.2 km in length and 50 m wide, permanently marked by flags. At the start of each summer season snow drifts have to be removed from the runway. In support of the runway, and 1.5 km south-west of the runway apron, is the main camp which remains year round. It comprises a “melon” hut together with a number of tents, garage, food depot, radio aerial, toilet facility etc.

The team relaxing in the Melon hut after a long day working to fly equipment to Ellsworth Lakes

Life at Sky-Blu is fairly basic. You live in a red submarine-like shell, called a melon-hut, and sleep in Pyramid tents. Most of your time is spent clearing snowdrifts from the blue ice runway with a snow-blower and the rest of the time is spent shifting drums. The only concession to comfort is a combustible toilet identical to the one at Fossil Bluff. Sky-Blu is a spectacular place but people either love it or hate it. It is affectionately thought of by most as a penal colony! A job advert for Sky-Blu would perhaps read something like this:

Persons wanted with extensive experience of tea drinking, staring at walls and daydreaming. Previous history of unemployment would be advantageous. Occasional 24 hour bursts of manic activity also necessary. Ideal candidate must be capable of hibernation, mostly, and hyperactivity when exposed to large doses of aviation fuel, occasionally.

When the weather is poor, work can’t be done outside. However, it’s quite pleasant inside the pyramid tent. The primus stove provides cups of tea and time passes reading, writing, chatting, playing scrabble or dozing. It’s frustrating to be stuck in the tent but on the days when the weather is good you are kept quite busy. Field parties are being uplifted and heading back to Rothera so you have Twin Otters bringing in equipment to be depoted ready for a Dash-7 flight.