McMurdo in August

What I had to go through to get here
WinFly is a most unpredictable time of year. It's taken over a week to make it down here from the States. Here's a quick itinerary...

Monday, 19 August
Fly to Denver - pretty straightforward, no real problems.
Tuesday, 20 August
Orientation and flight to Los Angeles - complicated by DIA closing for an hour due to tornadoes and by the plane (a Boeing 272) pulling up to a DC-10-style gate.
Wednesday, 21 August
Wednesday has been postponed until further notice due to crossing the International Date Line.
Thursday, 22 August
Arrival in N.Z. - complicated by the snows the previous night. Some of us had an hour delay due to delayed takeoffs from other airports.
Friday, 23 August
Clothing issue - the usual hubbub, except that I was issued one bag of my own clothing and one bag packed and tagged for someone else.
Saturday, 24 August
First attempt at departure - we arrived at 03:00, changed, bag dragged, lined up for Sam, the drug dog, but never got that far: the plane had mechanical difficulties. We were told there was a 48 hour delay.
Sunday, 25 August
Another near miss - first we got a call from the CDC (on Saturday) that we were going at 03:00, then, later, another call that we weren't due to bad weather on the other end.
Monday, 26 August
Second attempt at departure - we arrived, again, at 03:00, changed, bag dragged, got sniffed, queued up, waited in the depature lounge, boarded buses, boarded the C-141, launched, flew for 5 hours, then hit PSR (which is right over the airstrip), boomeranged due to high winds and dubious visibility, flew 4 hours back and were told that we were going to try again the next day.
Tuesday, 27 August
Third time's the charm - we arrive, this time at 05:00, change, skip the checked-luggage check (because our bags are still on the aircraft), get our handcarry sniffed, board the bosses, boad the aircraft, fly for 5-1/2 hours, and, miracles of miracles, arrive at McMurdo.

Tuesday, 27 August, 1996
I'm back! On the second attempt to fly down here, we actually made it. From what I've heard, the pilot yesterday had never landed here and upon hearing the present weather conditions, turned back 25 minutes before landing (at the actual landing time, the winds had actually died down enough for a safe landing). The weather was warm - 7°F (-14°C), but the winds were a steady 25 knots. Once we got back to town, the weather was fabulous; nobody could believe that it's August. We filed into the Galley for our orientation lecture, got our room assignments and waited around until we could fetch our luggage from the MCC.

Wednesday, 28 August, 1996
Today was my first day back at work. It's going to take a few days to get my office back in shape, especially now that I'm sharing it with another computer, the CSEC mail server. At least now, I've got a Sparc2 at my fingertips.

Last night, after I got my gear from the MCC, I unpacked, went to chow, took a shower and crashed 'til breakfast time this morning. Yesterday was long, starting at 05:00 as we did.

Thursday, 29 August, 1996
Bingo last night was a big hit. This year's winter-over crowd is much rowdier that we ever were. Winners had to run the gauntlet of catcalls and wadded-up bingo cards to claim their prizes.

The full moon has been spectacular in the mornings. It's setting about 08:30 now, after hanging low over the mountains. We're getting about six hours of light per day now. With all the delays, I missed some of the best days for wierd light.

The third WinFly flight is due today. Mail distribution is scheduled for 18:00 at the Playhouse. If I'm very lucky, the two packages I sent myself from Chch will be there. The other eagerly awaited item on the plane is a pallet of freshies (we were supposed to bring them on our flight, but after three days in a heated plane, they were no longer deserving of the name).

Friday, 30 August, 1996
No such luck. I didn't get my packages. The next flight isn't for a month.

I saw some aurorae last night. There were a few faint ones visible over Hut Point, but the best ones weren't until later. I was walking over to the Southern Exposure (the wintertime coffee house), and right overhead were long spears of green light. If it hadn't been so windy, I'd have headed up to B-133 or down by the Gym to get away from the lights of town. I watched for as long as I could stand, then headed into the coffee house to warm up. By the time I left, the aurorae had gone. It's been overcast and snowing all day; it'll probably be a few days before we get enough clear sky to see any more.

Saturday, 31 August, 1996
I crashed after dinner again last night. I'm not getting out much, but on the bright side, I'm up in plenty of time for a shower and a leisurely breakfast. The sightseeing hasn't been all that great lately; it's been snowing off and on for the past two days, with enough wind to keep things all stirred up - 15 knots today, 25 knots yesterday. The heat wave continues, though. It's still 7°F (-15°C); quite pleasant, considering it's August. I heard from Lt. Fred Clark, last winter's OIC (Officer In Charge) that it was a very mild winter - the high was 25°F (-3®C)! There was a pretty fierce storm this past Sunday: 98 knot winds in town (that's 113 mph for the landlocked crowd). There was storm damage to multiple antennas, one dorm, and a shack was lifted off the ground and deposited downrange a bit. It wasn't snowing, so the visibility was good, just watch out for flying debris.

The party tonight in the Playhouse has been cancelled - one of the band members is sick. There was supposed to be live music, drinks and dancing, but not now (I don't think that the band (finny-us-Gauge) is scheduled for another gig until the end of winter party on 28 September). I ended up in the coffee house 'til about 00:30, then went over to karaoke night at The Erebus. I stuck it out 'til closing time, singing mostly Beatles songs, then went straight home.

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