Deployment to Wilkins

Wilkins runway site
Line of heavy vehiclesExpeditioner group in front of tractorLine of heavy vehicles travelling up onto plateauWilkins runway camp

18 October 2006

Summer is drawing closer, and with it, the planned demonstration flights between Hobart and Casey.

Construction of the 4 km ice runway – the largest runway in Australia – has been underway since last year, with some maintenance being undertaken during the cold winter months in freezing temperatures as low as −40°C.

The summer runway construction team is already on the ship bound for Casey, due to arrive on 24 October. The crew will continue rolling and compacting the runway surface ahead of the planned flights sometime in December.

Those on station have also played a vital part in preparations. After a winter of maintenance work and various adaptations to the vast amount of equipment, a deployment team left Casey for the Wilkins runway site on 16 October to set up camp in readiness.

Station Leader Marilyn Boydell continues the story:

At 7am on Monday 16th October, the last of the heavy machinery headed up the hill to the tractor train assembly area, where we had been amassing the various vehicles for the previous week. They were all hitched up and when the Hägglunds and support crew arrived, everyone was ready to leave.

The obligatory group photo was taken, and then the tractor train headed off to Wilkins blue ice runway site about 70 km away, where the crew will spend five days setting up all the vans.

They will connect the power, start up the generator to make sure everything works and is ready for the construction crew to go straight up there and start work immediately.

As we had some bad weather during the winter months when the team was trying to get some of the work done, we are hoping for a good weather window now.

The team needs to return to station in just five days as Voyage 1 is about to arrive and all hands will be needed on station.

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