This weekend the research group got together to work on the plane that will carry us in Antarctica. This was a unique opportunity for us since normally we don’t see the plane until arriving. I say normally, but this is my first time to work in this capacity.
What usually happens is the team packages up all the equipment and ships it down there. This way works okay, but often things are missing or need to be adjusted. And by adjusted I don’t mean tightened or moved; I mean cut and welded… But this year is different. The plane we will be flying on (a DC3) was being constructed on Wisconsin and will fly down to Chile and then McMurdo Station down on the ice. But they had to pass through Austin. So this allowed us to install all of our equipment and test it before going down there insuring things are already adjusted properly and that they work. No guessing or hoping required. And best of all it was in Austin at approx 80 degrees vs. Antarctica well below freezing. No working outside in the cold!
So all day I helped construct racks to install our survey components. I did a lot of metal cutting and lifting. These things aren’t light. Unfortunately we didn’t have access to a machine shop, so most of our cuts or holes were done by eye, but after all was said and done it came together.
So how about some pictures?
(Finally I got my website working again to upload photos – well, I created another, but you can’t tell the difference from here)
The plane is painted in red and white for safety. If something happens and it lands unexpectedly the red top is very useful for finding the plane from above. Usually a little more would be better, but it still looks pretty cool.
The logo has some pretty cool flags plus ICECAP which is the project we’re doing. IPY is for the International Polar Year – a year where many countries invest extra money into understanding the poles. I think it goes on an 11 year cycle. So I came in at a good time although I feel this project would happen even if it wasn’t a special year.