Flying over Antarctica

As soon as we finished preparing the skiway, the first Twin Otter plane arrived to Halley, bringing a couple of new people and a few apples and oranges.

A flight over Brunt Ice Shelf

What it also brought down to us was a very unexpected opportunity to go flying! The four of us from Team Beaker (another name for the Science Team) were offered an opportunity to go on a Recce flight!

The first thing we were to do was to try out both approaches to the Skiway – one to RWY08 and the other one to RWY26. I got a job of photographing both approaches, so our pilot, Ian, could bring those to his Chief Pilot. This also meant I was given an opportunity to sit in the co-pilot’s seat! How cool is that?

We then went on to try the Blind Landing Site, which is located to the East of Halley. The idea behind it is to have a site which is free of obstacles (both manmade, like buildings, vehicles, etc, as well as natural, like slots and crevasses) and which could be used for landing in poor visibility. The technique that Ian used was to touchdown and trail the skis on the ice, while having the throttle open so that in case a slot decided to open, we could take off. That’s the theory at least! We also went looking for our tracks, but because the ice is relatively hard and there’s not much fresh snow at all, we couldn’t see them.

Finally we went on a short tour of the Ice Shelf – first in the North West direction from the base, towards the Rumples. The Rumples is an area where the Ice Shelf, continuously being pushed in the westerly direction, rests on a small island and significantly slows down, creating a lot of slots, crevasses and other interesting features.

After that we turned to South East and flew along the coast towards Windy Bay and the penguin colony. We spent a few minutes there, looking at the penguins from 2000ft above, and then finally turned back West and came back to base, taking the opportunity to photograph the station from above.

GPS Track and a few pictures

Following you can see the GPS track of the flight, in relation to the Halley Skiway, the Perimeter, a Blind Landing Site (I’ve marked the touchdown and takeoff points), the Creeks area and Windy Bay.

Following you can also see a few pictures from my flight. Please note, the first couple shots of the Twin Otter landing are actually from last summer and they show a different one (VP-FAZ) than the one I flew in (VP-FBC). I thought though it would be nice to have a picture of the plane itself!

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