Our flight from Christchurch to McMurdo was on a C-141, my first trip on one of these jets. With their jet engines they make the trip in 5 hours, rather than the 8 hours that it takes in the prop-powered C-130s. Despite the shorter flight time, this flight was worse than any of my other Antarctic flights because it was packed with as many people in as little space as possible. For the 5 hours it was difficult to move more than standing on my seat; even that was a bit of a chore.

    By this time of the year, early January, the runway on the sea ice just a couple kilometers from McMurdo is closed because it is starting to melt. When the sea-ice runway is closed the planes that land on wheels, like the C-141s have to land at Pegasus Runway, a hard ice runway on the permanent ice shelf about a one-hour drive from McMurdo (about 25 miles, 40 km, it's a slow trip).

    On the way in I actually never left Pegasus. The small Twin Otter plane was waiting there for me and 5 Italians. At about 10:00 PM it took off from Pegasus to take us to the Italian coastal base Terra Nova Bay (BTN, for Baia Terra Nova, the Italian name), about an hour and a half away. When we arrived at BTN it was after 11:00 PM, but one of the chefs came and cooked steak and fries for us, and many of the station's residents joined us for a late-night meal.



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Page created 19 May 2005, Last updated 19 May 2005 19:46 Pacific Daylight Time.