Things have been a little quiet recently on my blog, and this has to do with an increased work load. I’ve been on a week of night watch not so long ago, the Gash and we had a day of Scrub-out. In addition to that, I’ve been learning about the Diesel engines we use for the generators (how to do a basic service and maintenance), so I can cover for Paul, our Generator Mechanic, while he’s away on his Winter Trip – and I’ve been checking and topping up the oil.
Finally, we’ve been preparing the Skiway for the first plane to arrive, and I went out again to take a GPS survey of the station and its surroundings (the Perimeter, all buildings, towers, sledges, container and vehicle lines, etc), in addition to taking the coordinates of the Skiway itself. And this is what this post will be about!
Preparing the Skiway
Every year, at the end of Winter, Halley Station goes through a period of intensive preparation work for the incoming planes and ships. This means de-winterising the vehicles, getting the Summer Accommodation Building ready for people who arrive here (which is different this year, as we basically de-winterised the Summer Accommodation Building in the middle of the winter to keep it as a refuge as the result of the Power Down we experienced) or clearing the snow / wind tails from around the station.
One of the more important tasks is to prepare the Skiway.
This starts with installing a load of Radar Flags along the 1020m long skiway itself, one every 30m. These are only installed on one side of the skiway, along the northern edge. In addition to that, we’ve installed extra radar flags to mark both thresholds – these are installed to the left and right of each of those, and consist of a set of three flags to the left and right of each of the thresholds. In addition to that, we installed a number of lead-in flags 100m west of the RWY08.
Once these were installed, we then added extra normal flags to mark out the southern edge of the skiway, as well as the Apron and the Refuelling area.
Please see the diagram of the Skiway, with all flags, below. Black bars show the positions of the Radar flags, red and black dots show where the regular flags are installed, and the green crosses show the exact points GPS coordinates were taken to pass on to the BAS Air Unit.
Grooming the Skiway
Installing the flags isn’t all we had to do to make the Skiway ready. We also had to go out with a tractor and a groomer to groom it, which means we had to even out the surface of the Skiway itself, as well as the Apron, to make it hard and smooth.
To do this, our Vehicle Mechanic took the John Deere tractor out, with a groomer attached to its back and drove up and down a number of times along the skiway. This is similar enough, I suppose, to ploughing a field.
I got an opportunity to drive the tractor too and I must admit, it was a really good craic!
GPS Survey of the Skiway and Base Perimeter
Finally, to make the whole job complete, I went out again on a Skidoo to take the GPS coordinates of various points around the Skiway (these are the middle of the skiway centre line, the middle of both skiway thresholds, the first lead-in flag, and the intersection of the Final Approach with the N9 Flag Line and the Creek 3 Drum Line). I then went around the Station Perimeter to take the coordinates of each of the barrels, as well as each of the buildings, masts, towers, sledges, container lines, vehicle lines, and so on within the perimeter.
You can see the result of this survey on the map below.