This week at Casey the Basler and Twin Otter finally arrive bringing new faces and we remember the flight crew we lost last season.

Basler arrival

After waiting for days, weeks and a few false starts, the call came through that the weather would behave and allow a flight to depart from our friends over at McMurdo. So what do we do when the forecasters ask for weather observations for the entire time of the flight and starting form a few hours before? Well, first we check time zones — McMurdo are on New Zealand time — and then we find out what time the first observation is required (2:30am our time). Then we work out amongst the three of us who will go to the Skiway and report from there.

Michael was on the normal observation shift, but still started at 2:30am, Abrar was the slushy for the day, leaving me to go for an overnight stay with Ben M and to catch as much sleep as possible before work. And so, each hour I called in the current conditions to the forecasters in Hobart using a very dodgy satellite phone link and in between was reading a book about the history of the Melbourne Cup from 1861–1961. The most boring thing I've ever read.

The weather at our end seemed to be playing nice, until the fog came in, then dissipated and came in again and dissipated and came in and dissipated and came in and dissipated until we finally had a glorious day and perfect conditions for a plane to land.

Yes, that’s right, we have the first people we've seen since February 19th on station and proof that there is life beyond the ice. We farewell two of our fellow winterers tomorrow and wait for the C-130 to arrive in a couple of weeks time.

We remember

As the first Basler flight and Twin Otter arrived for the season, we remember the Ken Borek Air crew we lost last season. All three men became an integral part of the Casey community during the summer flying season.

Bob Heath was the senior pilot for the Twin Otter and was undertaking his third season working in Antarctica with the Australians. Bob had over 20 years experience as a pilot and had an outrageous story for every occasion, which you were never sure was entirely true or not, until he would produce a photo off his phone as evidence.

Mike Denton was the co-pilot who joined the flight crew just prior to Christmas. Though this was his first season working in Antarctica, he fitted well into the Casey community. He had a fondness of Australia and had travelled extensively through our country, though he didn’t like the thought of all the dangerous animals that live there.

Perry Andersen was the Twin Otter’s engineer. This too was his third season working in Antarctica. Perry fit into the Casey community well with his love of darts, though his taste in music didn’t have the biggest following. He challenged many fellow Casey-ites to a game of darts and would either be a gloating winner, or bitter loser. His taste in music didn’t have the biggest following though. He was a big kid at heart and got along with everyone.

These three members of the Casey community will be sorely missed.

Impressions of a Pilot

Flight is freedom in its purest form,
To dance with the clouds which follow a storm;
To roll and glide, to wheel and spin,
To feel the joy that swells within;
To leave the earth with its troubles and fly,
And know the warmth of a clear spring sky;
Should my end come while I am in flight,
Whether brightest day or darkest night;
Spare me your pity and shrug off the pain,
Secure in the knowledge that I’d do it again;
For each of us is created to die,
And within me I was born to fly.

Gary Claud Stokor