Friday, 30 January 2009

Fly like an ... Antarctic petrel

And today concludes the Halley airplane field season. Whew. My last flight was today. I thought that that would end my busy period, but now the station science season is in full force. As the interim science coordinator, I now have to pay attention to science activities on base that I had previously ignored, or at least evaded.

But back to the field work. This is the Twin Otter, Victor-Papa-Foxtrot-Bravo-Bravo, that takes me hither and thither:

...and this is my airport. Security is a breeze, but the Star Alliance lounge is somewhat limited.

I've done five or six flights, I think. Most of them are flights to places like this:

This is one of my GPS devices that I installed. As you read this, just think: there is a metal box buried in the snow on a lonely ice shelf, hundreds of miles from anywhere, with a little light flashing in it, right now. And it beeps every once in a while. In May, it will weaken and die, and flash no more.

And then it will wait, in silence and darkness.

And then in September it shall be reborn, flashing and beeping merrily until I come to collect it next season. At least that's the hope.

I think the work is starting to warp my reality. I've always personalized these things I install - when my job is to monitor devices that sleep, wake up, and talk to base, it's hard not to - but there is a whole range of inanimate objects that I am starting to personalize. For instance, take battery boxes:

I loathe them. They are intransigent, lazy, fat objects weighing 100kg and refusing to move when you ask them. They are very hard on the back, especially when dragging onto a sled or a plane. Lift with your legs, you say? Not easy when you are knee-deep in snow.

Ah, but then there are my antennas. Always ready to cheerfully talk, further and farther than I ever dreamed possible. Lightweight. Durable. Colour-coded. Haven't let me down yet.

Antennas are decent people.

And man, I need a break.

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